Newfoundland and Labrador officially ends vaccine passport system

In March 2022, the province lifted COVID lockdown measures and two months later in May, it rescinded mandatory vaccination rules for public servants.

Newfoundland and Labrador officially ends vaccine passport system
Facebook/ Government of Newfoundland and Labrador
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Newfoundland and Labrador officially closed their vaccine passport system with COVID lockdown measures no longer in place for the province for some time.

First introduced in 2021 — to counter the Delta variant — the NLVaxPass provided residents with proof of their COVID vaccination status through QR codes on an app or physical paper copy.

The rules covered most recreational and non-essential activities for those 12 and up, including bars, lounges, indoor entertainment, personal services like hair salons, tattoo parlours, and indoor gyms and arenas.

Businesses and organizations downloaded the verifier app NLVaxVerify to confirm the status of their patrons. If the person is fully vaccinated, a green bar appeared — if not, a red bar appeared.

According to the provincial government, the app stored the codes but not personal health information. 

At the time, Public Health asked people to wear masks, and some businesses maintained mandatory masking and the vaccine passport system. 

In March 2022, the province lapsed all COVID lockdown measures, and in May, it rescinded mandatory vaccination rules for public servants, with the situation since improved.

After nearly a year, they officially ended their COVID vaccine passport system. 

On October 14, 2022, the Newfoundland government discontinued the app, including NLVaxVerify, as COVID became part of the infectious disease landscape. They noted that proof of vaccination might be a travel prerequisite and that people could access their records through the Vaccine Portal and MyGovNL.

Ottawa launched ArriveCAN in April 2020 as a pandemic management tool that they claimed would streamline the border-crossing process by allowing travellers to upload quarantine details. 

Though initially optional, ArriveCAN became a prerequisite for air and land travel on July 5, 2021, when the federal government required all travellers to disclose their COVID vaccination status. 

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau admitted in late January that his government's approach to ArriveCAN was "highly illogical."

"The termination of this application is due to recommendations from public health that NLVaxVerify is no longer necessary in COVID management in Newfoundland and Labrador," reads a press release issued Friday morning by the Health Department.

However, the NLVaxPass part of the system "[remained] active for a few more months as a tool for residents to access and store COVID vaccination records easily."

On February 8, Manitoba officially ended its vaccine verification app as part of a series of government programs that became irrelevant.

According to a provincial spokesperson, the province permitted businesses and venues to request patrons' vaccination status after it ended province-wide vaccination requirements in March 2022.

At the time, some business owners expressed hesitation about removing vaccine requirements, while others celebrated the removal of restrictions after a difficult two years in the hospitality industry.

However, the province kept the application around, citing demand from businesses continuing to use it. 

"We've heard from some venues, some businesses, that they are interested in keeping proof of [vaccination] beyond that date," said Manitoba's Chief Public Health Officer Brent Roussin last year. "We can confirm that the Manitoba immunization card and the verifier app will be available beyond March 1, 2022, for those who want to continue to use that."

On February 3, residents could no longer download the app, but the province said it would remain active for businesses and venues requiring proof of immunization for its patrons. 

"Some businesses/venues may continue to require proof of immunization for access. Manitoba's immunization card and verifier app will continue to be available for this purpose," states the website.

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