TORONTO – Proof of COVID-19 vaccination will be required to access non-essential businesses in Ontario, including gyms, indoor restaurants, movie theaters and concert halls, under the new vaccine certification program in the province as of September 22.
Ontario Premier Doug Ford made the announcement at a press conference on Wednesday afternoon, saying the certificate is needed to keep businesses and non-essential facilities open as the Delta variant continues to operate. ‘fueling a fourth wave of COVID-19.
“After extensive discussions with our medical experts, we came across an evidence-based vaccine certificate policy and best advice,” Ford told reporters. “Vaccinations will be compulsory for certain indoor environments where the risk of transmission is the highest because masks are not always worn. “
“Regulatory officer-led enforcement will be reasonable and will rely on individuals and businesses to do the right thing. “
Eligible individuals will need to be fully vaccinated with two doses and have a provincial certificate to visit casinos, bingo halls, concert halls, theaters, cinemas, sporting facilities and events, banquet halls, entertainment centers. congresses and to eat in indoor food and beverage establishments. .
Officials said a certificate would not be needed for retail stores, living rooms, banks, places of worship, essential services, workplaces or patios and other outdoor spaces.
The new rules will also not apply to children under 12 and people with medical exemption.
As the government works on developing a digital vaccine certificate for October, the province says that for now, people will use their vaccine receipts available in PDF format on the provincial portal. People with a red and white health card can call the vaccine reservation line to get a copy of their receipt.
Watch Doug Ford’s vaccination passport announcement LIVE on CTVNewsToronto.ca and the CTV News app at 1 p.m.
Upon entering affected businesses, residents will be required to present the receipt along with government-issued photo ID, and, for now, it will be visually verified by sites and organizations.
For the official vaccine certificate, the province is working to establish personalized QR codes for those vaccinated, which should be ready by October 22. People could print or store the PDF QR code on their phone. It must be used with a government issued photo ID.
The government is also developing an app for businesses to scan and verify the contents of the QR code, which will also be ready in October.
Over the next few weeks, the province said it was working to establish a process to prove the immunization status of people without an email, health card or ID, as well as support implementation. vaccination certificates for indigenous communities.
The province has warned that proof of a negative COVID-19 test or recent infection will not replace vaccine certificates. There will be a limited time exception for funerals and weddings between September 22 and October 12. A negative test done within 48 hours will allow a person to enter if they are not fully vaccinated.
Over the past few days, officials have met several times to discuss the details of Ontario’s vaccine certification system. Plans for vaccine passports have already been rolled out in several other Canadian provinces, including British Columbia, Quebec and Manitoba.
“My friends, it’s no secret it’s something I didn’t want to do. It’s a serious step we don’t take lightly,” Ford told reporters Wednesday.
“It’s a temporary tool that we won’t be using any longer than necessary but … I know that’s what we need to do right now in the face of wave four because these certificates are needed to keep our hospitals safe. safely and to avoid further containment. ”
Toronto infectious disease specialist Dr Isaac Bogoch told CP24 on Wednesday that Ontario would likely see an increase in vaccinations following the announcement. Currently, about 83 percent of residents aged 12 and over in Ontario have at least one dose of the vaccine, and about 76 percent are fully immunized.
“We’ll probably see a pretty reasonable increase in the number of people reserving their vaccines. We’ve seen that in France, we’ve seen that in Quebec, we’ve seen that in British Columbia, I think we’ll probably see the same in Ontario, ”he said.
“People who might have been sitting on the fence will say, ‘Wow, if I want to participate in non-essential activities, go to non-essential businesses, like restaurants, bars, concerts or whatever, I have need a vaccine, I’ll get one. ‘”
He added that while vaccination certificates and passports are important, they are not the “comprehensive solution to the pandemic”.
“It helps create a safer indoor space,” he said. “It’s not the only thing to do. It’s a major political decision that can be taken to keep the premises open.”