By G9ija

Canadians wanting to eat at a restaurant, go to a bar or gym, or attend a festival in Quebec will have to present a vaccine passport starting September 1, officials announced Tuesday.

The province will be the first in Canada to require such passes, which are increasingly being used across the world to limit entry to public places to those who have been vaccinated, recovered from Covid-19 or tested negative.

They are also hugely controversial in some jurisdictions leading to mass protests against mandatory inoculations.

“Our objective with the passport is not to go backwards to a lockdown and, at the same time, to avoid overloading our hospitals,” Quebec Health Minister Christian Dube told a news conference.

Health officials have warned that Covid-19 infections are once again on the rise after plunging in June and July, despite more than 60 percent of the Canadian population being fully vaccinated.

The Quebec government is to clarify in the coming weeks which public places will be obliged to require the vaccine passports, which will be in paper or electronic format.

New York was the first American city to announce last week the introduction of vaccine passes for access to public places.

Quebec, the second most populous province in Canada after Ontario, recorded 234 new Covid-19 cases on Tuesday.

Some 84 percent of Quebecers have received a first dose of vaccine and 70 percent are fully vaccinated.

Dube warned that a fourth wave of Covid-19 infections led by the more contagious Delta variant in the fall was “inevitable.”

To date, the Delta variant is responsible for a third of Covid-19 cases in Quebec but the minister expects it to increase to 50 percent “in the coming weeks.”