EDMONTON -- The latest layer of protection against COVID-19 in Alberta takes effect Monday as two doses will be required when providing proof of vaccination.

Businesses and events using the Restrictions Exemption Program will now need to see valid proof of both doses or a negative test result within 72 hours.

Until Monday, having only a first dose of vaccine was enough to get you into a restaurant or event. The gradual progression was designed to give Albertans more time to react to the COVID-19 measures.

For one Edmonton pub, the identification process has become second nature to many customers.

“People come up ready to go with their passport out,” said Scott Krebes from Kelly’s Pub. “It’s been pretty seamless. I think people are starting to see that it’s worth it so we can just get back to normal.”

The newest change comes as COVID-19 infections in Alberta and hospitalizations suggest a downward trend.

In the last month and a half, Alberta’s total population has seen a six per cent increase in those who are fully vaccinated, increasing from 60 to 66.6 per cent.

The province administered more than 70,000 doses last week alone.

While the horizon may look promising, one Alberta doctor says the province cannot afford to lose focus and relax.

“We are winning, that’s very clear,” said Dr. Joe Vipond, Calgary ICU physician. “What we need to do is stay the course and that we don’t lift restrictions too early to make sure our gains we’ve fought so hard for aren’t immediately reversed.”

Vipond added that the vaccine passport and mask mandates are clearly helping. In the month the measures have been in place, the positivity rate, active case rate, and ICU admissions have dropped.

In his view, now is not the time to drop restrictions or lose vigilance.

“We are going in the right direction,” he said. “It (the provincial positivity rate) was 12 per cent three weeks ago. So let’s put things in relativity.”

As the new vaccine requirement comes into effect, Alberta Health Services continues to push public awareness campaigns encouraging vaccination, especially as vaccine uptake remains low in rural areas of the province.

Recent social media posts showed an inside look at patients in the ICU. On the less serious side, an AHS post tackles a misinformation about COVID-19 vaccines causing impotency in men.

“In fact the opposite could be true. We know that patients who get sick with COVID-19, even mild illness can experience erectile dysfunction,” said Dr. Keith Rourke, Kaye Edmonton Clinic urologist.

“Mask on up to keep it up. Vaccinate so you can fornicate.”