ontario lifting vaccine passport

Ontario is lifting vaccine passport requirements way sooner than planned

Ontario Premier Doug Ford and his team have finally just announced an end to the province's vaccine passport system, and it's far sooner than many may have been expecting.

In a media briefing on Monday morning, Ford revealed that the mandate for residents to show a valid proof-of-vaccination QR code to gain entry to many indoor settings will be dropped in just a few weeks, on March 1.

"The extraordinary measures that we introduced during this pandemic were always intended as a last resort, and I promised you that these tools would only be used for as long as they were absolutely necessary," Ford said, adding that key health indicators in the province have steadily improved.

"The removal of these measures has always been our objective... Like all of you, I have waited a long time for this news."

Ontario's latest phased reopening plan, which kicked off in late January, notably made no mention of when vaccine passport or masking rules in indoor public spaces would end.

The proof-of-vaccination system in particular was always meant to be temporary, Ford assured constituents back in September, though after the Omicron variant became pervasive over the winter, his team said that they anticipated the controversial requirement would remain in place "for at least the next several months... and maybe for longer than that."

But, the topic has become the centre of conversation in recent days as the trucker protests against stringent pandemic measures push on in Ottawa, and as Saskatchewan and Alberta put an end to their vaxpass policies, prompting leadership in other provinces to consider doing the same.

While Ontario Minister of Health Christine Elliott said last week that there were "no plans currently to drop the passport vaccination situation or masking" as the province had already set out our reopening timeline, Premier Ford took a different stance just two days later.

"Today we're on track to very soon remove almost all restrictions for businesses," Ford had said during a press conference last Friday, adding that the province's chief medical officer of health was in the process of finalizing a plan of how we will shed the proof-of-vaccination system.

"My friends, this is great news and a sign of just how far we've come together in this fight."

In Monday's media briefing, leadership also announced that the reopening timeline in general would be expedited, with capacity limits in most businesses — save for large-scale event venues and certain "high-risk" settings — to be completely removed in just a matter of days, on Feb. 17.

Social gathering limits, likewise, will be raised from 10 indoors and 25 outdoors to 50 in and 100 out on that date.

On March 1, all capacity limits in all settings will be nixed. But, masking will remain throughout this accelerated reopening.

Lead photo by

Premier of Ontario

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