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City of Regina delays proof of vaccination target date by two months

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REGINA -

Regina city council is pushing back its target date to require proof of vaccination from people entering city facilities.

Upon entry, visitors will have to provide proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test as of Nov. 15, nearly two months after the original target date.

While Mayor Sandra Masters said she is confident the mask mandate at city facilities will keep people safe for the time being, it is possible proof of vaccination requirements are implemented sooner than the target date.

“I think with the mask mandate in place we have a little bit of peace of mind because we know masks reduce transmissibility,” Masters said.

“If the technology is there quicker, Chris Holden with his delegated authority will adjust that timeline accordingly.”

City manager Chris Holden said challenges with accessing QR codes is the main reason for changing the target date.

The province is expected to roll out QR technology next week. However, Holden said it will take time for the city to work out technical details with the codes and how they will be scanned at each facility.

Residents will need time to register for their MySaskHealthRecord in order to access the QR code, Holden said.

According to a city report, one additional staff member will be required at most facilities in order to complete the screening required. All public city facilities will have vaccination status checked at the door.

The city estimates it will cost $250,000 to activate proof of vaccination from Nov. 15 to the end of the year.

During Wednesday’s city council meeting, Saskatchewan Union of Nurses president Tracy Zambory spoke in support of the vaccine requirements. She said governments need to reinstate COVID-19 restrictions, such as proof of vaccination and mandatory masking, in order to curb the fourth wave.

“We’re on the brink of a tragedy,” Zambory said.

Ahead of Wednesday’s city council meeting, dozens of people gathered outside City Hall to protest against proof of vaccination.

One of the protest organizers, Tamara Lavoie, spoke to council arguing proof of vaccination goes against people’s rights and freedoms. She, like several of the other delegations, questioned Holden’s authority to make decisions regarding COVID-19 protocols.

In April 2020, city council passed a resolution to delegate specific authorities to the city manager to make decisions to respond to COVID-19. However, council does have the right to cancel or amend the decisions.

“I take that delegation very seriously,” Holden said, adding he is in regular talks with medical health professionals.

“At the end of the day I am accountable. I am accountable to the mayor and the ten councillors.”

In Saskatchewan, decisions to require proof of vaccination in businesses, organizations and institutions are left up to individual owners and governing bodies, which means city council is in its legal realm to request proof of vaccination.

In other parts of the country, these decisions are made at the provincial level.

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