ontario covid

Ontario announces stronger proof-of-vaccination requirements as cases spike

With 1,453 new cases of COVID-19, Ontario just reported its highest case jump in more than six months. 

The province is thus taking steps once again to crack down on the spread of the virus — particularly the new and mysterious Omicron variant — by pausing some reopening plans and rolling out stricter vaccine passport rules.

First, as expected, the Ontario government has scrapped its previously-announced date of Jan. 17, 2022 for lifting proof of vaccination requirements.

This is being done "in line with Ontario's cautious approach to reopening, and as global data on the Omicron variant continues to evolve," according to a document issued on Friday.

Then, as of Jan. 4, 2022, everyone in Ontario must present an enhanced vaccine certificate with QR code before entering businesses or settings deemed high-risk.

Neither emailed receipts nor any other proof of vaccination documents will be accepted beyond this point (you can learn how to download yours right here if you have yet to do so. Both digital and printed copies will work, as long as they have a valid QR code.)

Additional measures being taken to slow the spread of COVID-19 as we head into the heart of the holiday season include:

  • Requiring proof of vaccination for youth aged 12 to 17 years of age participating in organized sports at recreational facilities beginning Dec. 20.
  • A new process to provide an enhanced COVID-19 vaccine certificate with QR code for individuals who have an eligible medical exemption beginning Dec. 15.
  • Rolling out vaccine booster shots to Ontarians aged 50 and older beginning Dec. 13, as long as six months have passed since the date of their second dose.
  • Expanding booster shot eligibility to all other eligible adults beginning Jan. 4.
  • Increasing rapid antigen testing for high-risk congregate settings  
  • Strengthening rapid antigen testing guidance for schools
  • Launching a holiday testing blitz offering voluntary rapid antigen screening to asymptomatic individuals free of charge
  • Hiring additional inspectors to ensure businesses are abiding by capacity limits and other required safety measures
  • Advising employers to allow their employees to work from home whenever possible
  • Urging unvaccinated or partially vaccinated individuals to limit their social gatherings and the number of gatherings they attend, especially over the holiday season

"Ontario, like other jurisdictions around the world, is seeing concerning trends in public health and health care indicators, and additional measures are required to protect our progress for the long-term," said Dr. Kieran Moore, Chief Medical Officer of Health, on Friday.

"All Ontarians are strongly urged to follow these and existing measures and get vaccinated with a first, second or booster dose if you have not done so already."

"These are the layers that are protecting everyone. By taking these actions, we can help to reduce the mobility of COVID-19 and its variants, protect public health and health system capacity and save lives," Moore continued. "We need to keep each other safe."

Lead photo by

Government of Ontario

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