doug ford announcement

Doug Ford confirms that Ontario will soon be leaving Step 3

Soon, after more than four months of languishing in Step 3 of the provincial government's Roadmap to Reopen, Ontario will finally exit the framework altogether into a new version of normal.

Premier Doug Ford confirmed the news Friday morning during a press conference at Queen's Park, telling reporters that the rumours are true: More restrictions will soon be lifted across the province, with some safety measures remaining in place.

It's all thanks to the successful rollout of Ontario's vaccinate passport program, says Ford, and the willingness of (most) residents to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

"Because so many of you have rolled up your sleeves, we're now able to finalize our plans to exit Step 3 of the Roadmap Reopen and cautiously lift more public health measures," said the premier this morning.

"The work began months ago and we're finalizing the plan now, including where and when we may need to reapply measures should they be required to stop a surge in transmission."

No word yet on when, precisely, Step 3 will end, but we do know that restrictions such as indoor masking will carry on into the next chapter of this long, confusing saga.

Ford promised that updated travel guidance would be coming well ahead of the holiday season and that any future lockdowns would — if necessary — be "localized, tailored and aimed at limiting disruptions to businesses and families."

"The Chief Medical Officer of Health has been clear," said Ford. "The objective is to avoid further lockdowns."

One of the key ways in which we can avoid lockdowns, says the premier, is to make use of Ontario's new enhanced vaccine certificates with official QR codes and the free, made-in Ontario verification app for businesses, Verify Ontario.

"Together, these tools will make it easier, more secure and convenient for individuals to provide proof of vaccination where required to do so, and for businesses and organizations to verify vaccine certificates while protecting people’s privacy," reads a release issued by the government today.

"Since the proof of vaccination requirement went into effect, the province has reached two key milestones in its COVID-19 response with more than 87 per cent of individuals aged 12 and over vaccinated with at least a first dose and more than 82 per cent with two doses."

The Verify Ontario app is available now for businesses to download ahead of its official Oct. 22 launch, and consumers can download their personalized proof-of-vaccination QR codes beginning today — though only if they were born in January, February, March or April.

Tomorrow, the enhanced certificate part of Ontario's COVID-19 vaccination portal will open up for May to August babies, followed by those born in September to December on Oct. 17.

"To ensure a smooth user experience, the province is initially making the enhanced vaccine certificate with scannable QR code available for download in cohorts based on an individual's birth month over a period of three days," reads the portal currently.

"As of October 18 at 6:00 a.m., the enhanced vaccine certificates will be available for all vaccinated Ontarians to download."

Anyone with questions about the QR code certificates can likely find answers here in a comprehensive FAQ document just released by the province. Key to note is that, even after the app formally launches, the PDF vaccine receipt you've been using will continue to be accepted and remain valid.

Lead photo by

Premier of Ontario

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