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Ontario's COVID-19 vaccine certificate: Premier Doug Ford takes 'serious step' requiring residents to show proof at restaurants, bars

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Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced a proof of vaccination system that will be implemented as of Sept. 22.

"Despite this progress...we find ourselves facing a fourth wave of COVID-19," Ford said at a press conference on Wednesday.

"This is something that I did not want to do. This is a serious step that we’re not taking lightly."

How will the proof of COVID-19 vaccination system work?

Beginning on Sept. 22, people in Ontario will be required to proof of full vaccination (two doses plus 14 days) at the entrance of the following settings:

  • Restaurants and bars (excluding outdoor patios, delivery and takeout)

  • Indoor and outdoor areas of nightclubs

  • Meeting and event spaces (ex. banquet halls and conference/convention centres)

  • Facilities used for sports and fitness activities and personal fitness training (gyms, fitness and recreational facilities, with the exception of youth recreational sport)

  • Sporting events

  • Casinos, bingo halls and gaming establishments

  • Concerts, music festivals, theatres and cinemas

  • Strip clubs, bathhouses and sex clubs

  • Racing venues (ex. horse racing)

Ontarians will use the proof of vaccination receipt available as a PDF that can be downloaded on a mobile device, or printed.

Beginning on Oct. 22, Ontario will introduce an "enhanced vaccine certificate" with a unique digital QR code. The province will also launch a new mobile app for businesses to verify each person's digital vaccine receipt.

People who cannot get a COVID-19 vaccine due to a medical exemptions will be permitted entry to these settings with a doctor’s note until the exemption system is in place through the digital platform.

Children who are not yet eligible to received a COVID-19 vaccine will also be exempt from these rules.

"At no time will people be denied medical care, food from grocery stores or basic medical supplies based on their vaccination status," Ontario's Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, Christine Elliott, said on Wednesday.

Premier Ford stressed that this will be a "temporary" measure that the province "won’t use for a day longer than we have to."

What is not included in the proof of vaccination requirement?

Notably absent from the Ontario government's proof of vaccination requirements are personal care services, like hair salons and barber shops, and places of worship.

"We’ve done a risk assessment of that sector at present, they’ve got very good infection prevention control practices, both for their workers and for their clients, and their screening that’s in place, and they’re smaller settings," Dr. Kieran Moore, Ontario's chief medical officer of health said on Wednesday when asked to explain why these rules don't apply to personal care settings.

Additionally, these rules do not apply to employees who work in settings where proof of vaccination is required to enter as a patron.

"Any business can introduce an immunization policy for their business and for their employees," Dr. Moore said. "The other piece of protection that you have within a restaurant, for example, is that every worker should be screening for symptoms before they show up."

"They should get tested if they develop any symptoms, they should have the appropriate infection protection and control equipment to protect them against any transmission of infection. So there are a whole suite of tools that are there to protect the worker, although obviously my goal would be that they are immunized."

Following the formal announcement of the upcoming implementation of vaccine certificates, several Ontarians, including health experts, have taken to social media to comment.

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