ontario vaccine passport

Ontario releases new details explaining how vaccine passports will actually work

With just over a week to go before Ontario residents are mandated to show proof-of-vaccination documents at bars, restaurants, gyms, cinemas, nightclubs, and other "high-risk" indoor settings, the province has finally released clear guidelines for business owners to follow.

Beginning next Wednesday, September 22, patrons of the aforementioned non-essential establishments will need to carry with them either a printed or digital PDF copy of the receipt for their second shot of a Health Canada-approved COVID-19 vaccine.

Those who can't provide this specific document from the provincial booking portal will, under the new rules, be refused entry, unless they are under 12, have a valid medical exemption or — and this is a big, brand new one — they're only coming inside for a few minutes.

According to the regulations released by the provincial government on Tuesday, people don't need to prove that they're vaccinated to enter eligible settings if they're only stopping in to use a washroom, pick up an order, pay a bill or make a retail purchase.

At businesses where vaccine passport requirements are in place, patrons who spend any significant amount of time inside will need to show both their vaccine receipts and an identification document such as a birth certificate or driver's licence.

Photo ID will not be required, but business employees are asked to match the names and birth dates listed on inoculation receipts. Staff must also verify that the patron got their second COVID shot more than 14 days earlier.

Once the second phase of the passport program rolls out (currently estimated to be October 22), Ontarians will be able to use "an enhanced digital vaccine receipt that features a QR code" to enter establishments, as well as verify that receipts are legit.

As was revealed last week, certificate requirements will not apply to outdoor settings where the risk of transmission is lower, including patios, with the exception of outdoor nightclub spaces, settings where people receive medical care and grocery stores.

Business owners and individuals who do not comply with the rules can face fines under the Reopening Ontario Act. 

Roughly 84.9 per cent of eligible Ontario residents (people born in 2009 or earlier) have now received at least one dose of vaccine, while 78.2 per cent have had two.

Vaccine registration numbers did spike last week after the province announced its proof of immunization program, but we have yet to reach a level of immunity that Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Keiran Moore is comfortable with in terms of leaving Step 3 of reopening.

"High rates of vaccination against COVID-19 are critical to helping protect our communities and hospital capacity while keeping Ontario schools and businesses safely open," said Minister of Health Christine Elliott when announcing the new details this afternoon.

"As we continue our last mile push to increase vaccination rates, requiring proof of immunization in select settings will encourage even more Ontarians to receive the vaccine and stop the spread of COVID-19. If you haven't received your first or second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, please sign up today."

Lead photo by

Jesse Milns

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