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Alberta ends downloads of Covid vaccine QR code reader

The Alberta QR code reading app will no longer be available for businesses to download, but it will still work for some time, the health minister said.

Health Minister Jason Copping met with the media at Thursday’s COVID-19 briefing and said Albertans can still download their proof of vaccination. The QR code app to read it, however, will no longer be available to download.

This comes after the province began removing Covid-19 public health restrictions Tuesday.

Minister Copping did say the QR code reader would still work.

“Even though the app is no longer available, the way that it works, you do not need it to talk back to a server,” he said.

“Actually, most locations who are using the QR code have already downloaded and have it available. That will continue to work for quite some period of time. We just won’t be updating the app and you can’t download it new again.”

On Tuesday, Premier Jason Kenney said that businesses could do their own entry requirements. Cities could also look at their own vaccine passport system. But, he advised against the latter. He said they would be attempting to create a separate municipal public health policy.

“I think that would be a serious problem,” he said.

QR Code reader for cities?

As cities discussed how to move forward in the absence of Alberta’s Restrictions Exemption Program, the matter of a QR code reader was a concern.

“Additionally, going forward is likely that there will be less access to provincial data and a lack of clear metrics for when it would be appropriate to rescind the bylaw and no control over the provincial QR code system,” the City of Calgary’s Matt Zabloski told councillors during Wednesday’s Covid briefing.

Ward 2 Coun. Jennifer Wyness asked on Wednesday if the city would have access to a QR code reader if the province discontinued theirs.

Zabloski said there was no commitment that the province’s version would be in place indefinitely. He also said he didn’t know if it would be maintained. Those questions were answered by Copping on Thursday.

Calgary city councillors voted not to pursue a local vaccine passport. Lack of data and logistics were factors, councillors said. Edmonton, however, has a meeting Friday to provide vaccine passport options.

Minister Copping said the QR codes remain available, as do the readers, for the interim.

As an alternative, businesses could require a printed copy of the QR code for a visual check, Copping said.