TORONTO – Proof of vaccination is required to access select businesses and venues across the province, including in Wellington County starting today.
The announcement of a provincially led vaccine passport came on Sept. 1, following mounting pressure from businesses, the public, politicians and medical professionals.
The number of first vaccine doses administered jumped locally the day following the announcement, according to public health data.
“We can’t wait any longer, we must take immediate action, and we will,” Premier Doug Ford said on Sept. 1, officially reversing a previously held anti-passport stance.
During a Sept. 22 press conference Ford said many people are concerned about the certificate and what it means for civil liberties.
“I know that this is a divisive issue and that’s understandable,” Ford said, reiterating he was “reluctant” to endorse a passport system.
“But our highest concern, what keeps me up at night, is ensuring we never lose our hard-fought progress,” he said, adding the province couldn’t afford another shutdown or surge in cases.
“Let me be very clear, this is a temporary and exceptional measure and we will only use these certificates for as a long as they are needed and not one day longer.”
Ford called for patience as businesses implement the passport system.
“As we begin this vaccine certificate, there’ll be a period of learning,” Ford said, adding enforcement would begin with education and be reasonable for business owners.
Patrons and customers are now required to provide proof of full vaccination (two doses plus 14 days) to be allowed into restaurants (not including outdoor patios), nightclubs, meeting/event spaces, sports and fitness settings, sporting events, gaming establishments like casinos, concert halls, theatres, strip clubs, and indoor racing venues.
Second vaccine dose receipts can be downloaded from the province’s website and on Oct. 22, a digitized certificate with a QR code will become available for use as well.
Employees at businesses and venues falling within the government’s criteria are being asked to match the name and date of birth listed on the vaccination receipt with the information on the person’s ID.
The receipt must include the individual’s second dose, and the date of administration must be verified as at least 14 days prior.
The passport requirement doesn’t apply to employees themselves; their employer would need to develop its own immunization policy or meet the province’s minimum requirements, as is the case for some settings like long-term care homes and hospitals.
Those with proven medical exemptions and those under the age of 12 are exempt from having to prove vaccination status to enter the selected settings.
Vaccine status also does not need to be proven for using washrooms, paying for or picking up an order, or to access outdoor areas accessed only by passing indoors.
Indoor sporting facilities throughout the county will need to ensure spectators are fully vaccinated but participants in sports, under the age of 18, do not need to be vaccinated.
However, there are exceptions to that rule with individual sports organizations, like the Ontario Minor Hockey Association who require all eligible players to be fully vaccinated by Oct. 31.
When it comes to weddings and funerals, you don’t need to be vaccinated unless you’re attending the reception.
If attending a reception between Sept. 22 and Oct. 12, you can provide a negative rapid antigen test taken 48 hours prior, in absence of proof of vaccination. After Oct. 12, proof of vaccination is a must for wedding and funeral receptions.
— With files from Paige Peacock