Vaccine certificates introduced for restaurants and other public venues

stock image phone with vaccine qr code
©CAN STOCK PHOTO/MPPRODUCTION

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Ontario Construction News staff writer

Ontario residents will need to show proof of COVID-19 vaccinations to get into gyms, theatres, restaurants, casinos, and other non-essential businesses starting Sept. 22.

“We have two options here. We either do this or we risk shutting down the economy, which would even be worse, having our hospital capacity maxed out and at the brink, having our kids stay at home, our college and university kids going back online. That is what we are trying to avoid,” Premier Doug Ford said at a news conference on Wednesday afternoon.

A vaccine certificate will not be required for retail shopping and outdoor dining, or attending workplaces, religious services, and other essential businesses, including grocery stores, pharmacies, and banks.

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Exemptions will be given to individuals who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons and for children who are not currently eligible to be immunized in Ontario.

Ontarians will need to be fully vaccinated (two doses plus 14 days) and provide their proof of vaccination along with photo ID to access certain public settings and facilities. This approach focuses on higher-risk indoor public settings where face coverings cannot always be worn and includes:

  • Restaurants and bars (excluding outdoor patios, as well as delivery and takeout)
  • Nightclubs (including outdoor areas of the establishment)
  • Meeting and event spaces, such as banquet halls and conference/convention centres
  • Gyms
  • Sporting events
  • Casinos, bingo halls and gaming establishments
  • Concerts, music festivals, theatres and cinemas
  • Strip clubs, bathhouses and sex clubs
  • Racing venues

Mandatory requirements will not apply to outdoor settings including patios, with the exception of outdoor nightclub spaces given the risk associated with the setting. In addition, these requirements will not apply to settings where people receive medical care, food from grocery stores, medical supplies and the like. Aligned with public health measures currently in place, indoor masking policies will continue to remain in place.

“We know vaccines provide the best protection against COVID-19 and the Delta variant,” said Christine Elliott, minister of health. “To protect the health and well-being of Ontarians, our government will offer one more tool to encourage even more Ontarians to receive the vaccine and provide further protection to fully vaccinated Ontarians as they safely enjoy activities with their loved ones and support their local businesses.”

Individuals who cannot receive the vaccine due to medical exemptions will be permitted entry with a doctor’s note until recognized medical exemptions can be integrated as part of a digital vaccine certificate. Children who are 11 years of age and younger and unable to be vaccinated will also be exempted from these requirements.

For the period between Sept. 22 and Oct. 12, it is intended that people attending wedding or funeral receptions at meeting or event spaces will be able to provide a negative rapid antigen COVID-19 test from no more than 48 hours before the event as an alternative to proof of vaccination. These rapid antigen tests would have to be privately purchased.

Ontarians currently have access to a paper or PDF vaccine receipt that includes all relevant information to prove that they are fully vaccinated. As of September 22, Ontarians will be required to show their vaccine receipt when entering designated settings along with another piece of photo identification, such as a driver’s licence or health card. This is similar initial implementation approach announced in British Columbia.

An enhanced digital vaccine receipt that features a QR code will be introduced in October. It can be stored on a mobile to show vaccination status. A new app is also expected this fall.

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