As of Monday, October 4, proof of COVID vaccination is required to enter non-essential businesses in Nova Scotia. This includes destinations from restaurants and cafes, to sporting events and concerts, to gyms and dance classes.
The province said that new proof of vaccination, or POV, certificates with QR (quick response) codes would be ready for all Nova Scotians by October 20. But those accessing the CanImmunize website over the weekend discovered that the province is ahead of schedule—QR codes are already available.
Here's the province's video tutorial on how to access yours:
You can save the QR code to your phone—as an image, in your digital wallet, or even as your lock screen—to access whenever you need it. Last week, chief medical officer of health Robert Strang said the province was working to get free QR code scanners for all businesses as soon as possible.
“The scanners themselves are going to be provided free,” he said in Wednesday’s COVID update. We’re working on all that right now, and it’s part of the policy to give them the tools including the reader of the QR codes.”
But some Nova Scotians want printed, tangible cards as well. Those who aren’t 100 percent comfortable with the technology, or just want a paper backup card for when their phone dies, are looking for ways to keep their POV on them at all times just like they would a driver’s license or other ID.
CanImmunize used to provide a business card-sized printable POV on vaccine records, ideal for this scenario. But if you didn’t download it before the changeover to QR codes, you can no longer access it. Those who want to print their new QR code can scale the document down to card size if they’re tech-savvy, or just print it out on a letter-size piece of paper and carry that around.
But the old card is still legal proof if you already made a printed card without the QR code, and the province says customer service staff should recognize it. “Until they get the readers, part of our training is, what are considered valid proofs of vaccine, what they look like,” said Strang, including different types like what the military POV looks like.
People from other jurisdictions are also permitted to show the proof of vaccination they received at home, according to a release from the government October 4. “Original records from the place where people were vaccinated are acceptable,” reads the release. “However, the standard Nova Scotia format is preferred for eligible people because it is easier for businesses and organizations to review in places where proof of full vaccination is required to participate in events and activities.”
Preserving your POV in plastic
If you have a printed POV card, some Halifax businesses can help you make sure it stays pristine. In early September, staff at Garrison Brewing in Halifax decided to co-opt their lamination machine—usually used for menus and handwashing posters—for COVID POVs.
“We just said OK, we’ve got a lamination machine here at the brewery so let’s just do this for staff,” says Garrison Brewing marketing manager Justin Zinck in an interview with The Coast.
It began because Garrison is partnered with the Halifax Wanderers, and the soccer team announced game attendees would be required to show proof of vaccination as of September 14. “So staff needed to get theirs done,” says Zinck.
But demand quickly grew as word got around. “Soon other staff members were asking ‘Can I do my significant other’s?’” Zinck says. “And I’m like sure, why not. The more people that can show proof of vaccination, the better.”
When demand kept increasing, Garrison decided to make it a real offer, and put the call out in an Instagram post that reads “Sit back, relax, and let us laminate your proof of vax.”
“It was at first tagged to purchasing a 12-pack,” he says. “But then we’re like hey, if they’re down here for a beer and going to sit down, why don’t we do it for a beer as well.”
Technically, buying a beer isn’t a requirement, says Zinck. “We’re not going to turn anybody away,” he says, Buying a drink is recommended because the laminator can take five minutes to heat up, but “if the machine has been running and it's still on, it takes literally like 30 seconds to run through.”
Garrison doesn’t have a printer for the public, so customers must bring their print-out of the card or QR code with them, but staff at both the brewery on Marginal Road and the Oxford Taproom say that hasn’t been a problem.
“We’ve done well over 100,” Zinck says. “And it makes sense to us 'cause we’re going to have to ask for proof of vaccination here October 4, and having it in your wallet might be a little bit easier.”
For Garrison, the laminator itself only cost about $50, and 100 sheets of plastic didn’t cost much either. “It’s really not a huge investment, and it’s a great way for us to do something for the community.”
If you’re looking to support a local printing business, Allen Print Ltd. in Dartmouth is also offering to turn your flimsy paper card into a real plastic ID card. The store says in a Facebook post that for $20, they’ll crop and print your emailed file and print the POV certificate onto a high-quality plastic wallet-size card.
Halifax Public Libraries is also offering printing and a plastic cover. Samantha Sternberg, HPL services manager for the Basin District, says library computers are available for the public, and library printers also connect to most mobile devices.
Whether your POV is printed, digital or on your t-shirt like this guy, make sure you have it before heading out.