(Victoria Buzz)

BC health officials are scrapping the province’s vaccine card requirement next month, earlier than expected.

Effective Friday, April 8th at 12:01 a.m., British Columbians will no longer have to show proof of vaccination against COVID-19 in non-essential public settings.

Still, individual businesses and organizations can choose to continue to require the BC Vaccine Card proof on their premises, health officials say.

The vaccine card program, which launched last September, requires those 12 and up attending events, gyms or restaurants to have a vaccine card and photo ID ready to be checked and scanned before entry.

In place to “address and mitigate risks,” the program helps keep certain businesses and activities open amid the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Dr. Bonnie Henry.

In late January, the provincial health officer announced vaccine cards would stay in place until June 30th. However, Henry did say health officials would look to “make adjustments earlier.”

Come April 8th, BC businesses can start transitioning from a COVID-19 safety plan to a communicable disease plan, health officials say. That’s also when the province’s post-secondary residence vaccine requirement is being lifted.

The upcoming changes arrive as case numbers and hospitalization rates fall.

BC’s COVID-19 update for Wednesday saw the province’s Ministry of Health announce 274 new cases of the virus—including 77 in Island Health, a region that accounted for five of the 14 additional deaths.

There are currently 405 people in hospital with the virus, 58 of whom are in critical care—ICU or acute care units.

The latest update also noted 93.7% of all adults living in the province were vaccinated with one dose of COVID-19 vaccine, while 91.3% were vaccinated with two doses.

SEE ALSO: BC Health officials announce face masks will no longer be required in public spaces

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