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Ontario releases more details on COVID-19 vaccine passport

The new measure requiring full vaccination for high-risk public indoor spaces goes into effect Sept. 22
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Deputy Premier and Health Minister Christine Elliott

With a week to go until Ontario implements a COVID-19 vaccine passport, more details have been revealed on how it will work.

Today, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health Christine Elliott unveiled details such as acceptable IDs, exemptions to the rules and enforcement.

Starting Wednesday, Sept. 22 people will need to be fully vaccinated to visit high-risk public indoor spaces. People are considered fully vaccinated 14 days after receiving their second dose. If you had your second dose Sept. 8 or earlier, you'll be able to visit the affected settings when the passport goes into effect.

Proof of vaccination will not be required for medical care, food from grocery stores and basic medical supplies.

“High rates of vaccination against COVID-19 are critical to helping protect our communities and hospital capacity while keeping Ontario schools and businesses safely open,” said Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, in a news release.

“As we continue our last mile push to increase vaccination rates, requiring proof of immunization in select settings will encourage even more Ontarians to receive the vaccine and stop the spread of COVID-19. If you haven’t received your first or second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, please sign up today.”

The places people will have to provide proof of vaccination are indoor areas of:

  • Concert venues, theatres and cinemas
  • Dining areas of restaurants and other food or drink establishments. But not for patios, delivery and takeout.
  • Indoor and outdoor areas of food or drink establishments with dance facilities, excluding takeout and delivery 
  • Gyms and facilities for sports/recreation activities, including personal training
  • Commercial film and TV productions with studio audiences 
  • Waterparks
  • Sporting events
  • Casinos, bingo halls and other gaming establishments
  • Horse racing tracks, car racing and other similar venues 
  • Meeting and event spaces such as banquet halls and convention centres
  • Strip clubs, bathhouses and sex clubs

As of Sept. 22, to enter one of the settings, people will have to provide proof of vaccination and ID. The business or organization must review and confirm the proof.  Masking, screening and other public health measures still apply.

There are circumstances when unvaccinated people will be allowed access to one of the spaces. These are:

  • Someone entering an indoor area to:
    • Use a washroom
    • Pay for an order 
    • Access an outdoor area that can only be accessed through an indoor route
    • To place or pick up an order, including placing a bet or picking up winnings at a racing track
    • Buy admission 
    • Make a retail purchase 
    • If it's necessary for the purposes of health and safety
  • People attending a wedding or funeral service, rite or ceremony and not attending the reception in a meeting or event space. From Sept. 22 - Oct. 12, people attending wedding or funeral receptions at meeting or event space will be allowed to provide a negative rapid antigen COVID-19 test. The test must be from no more than 48 hours before the event
  • People with a written document from a nurse practitioner or doctor giving a medical reason for being exempt from being fully vaccinated. ID must be provided with this.

How to provide proof

Acceptable ID documents are a birth certificate, citizenship card, driver's licence, government-issued identification card, including a health card, Status Card or Indigenous membership card, passport, permanent resident card. 

For people who don't have their second-dose receipt, there are ways to access it.

People with a green photo OHIP card can download a receipt online. This can either be printed or downloaded to your mobile device as a PDF.

People with a red and white health card can call the Provincial Vaccine Booking Line at 1-833-943-3900 for a receipt. If you don't have a health card, you'll have to call your local public health unit to verify their identity and receive a COVID-19 ID/personal access code then call the Provincial Vaccine Booking Line.

If you received one or both doses out of province, contact your local health unit to record the information and receive proper documentation.

On Oct. 22 the government expects to roll out the digital vaccination certificate.

It will be a unique QR code. The province is developing a new app for businesses and facilities to scan and validate the QR codes. 

“Businesses need a smart, quick and safe solution to verify vaccination,” said Kaleed Rasheed, Associate Minister of Digital Government, in a news release. “The made-in-Ontario enhanced vaccine certificate for the public and the verification app for businesses are tools to confirm that an individual has been vaccinated while protecting Ontarians’ health data.”

Enforcement

This week, officers are visiting businesses to talk about the proof of vaccination requirements. 

Similar to other COVID-19 public health measures, these new requirements can be enforced by all provincial offence officers. These include bylaw officers, public health inspectors and regulatory officers from ministries and agencies.

33 per cent jump in first doses reported

Since the vaccine passport announcement was made a week ago, the province is reporting the number of people getting their first dose has jumped about 33 per cent. That translates into about 103,000 receiving their first dose since Sept. 1, compared to 78,000 doses in the seven days prior to that. 

So far in Ontario, 84.5 per cent of eligible Ontarians 12 years and older have received at least one dose of the vaccine, with 78.2 per cent of people being fully vaccinated.

The provincial target is to have 90 per cent of the eligible population with a first dose, meaning 718,000 people need to be vaccinated to reach that milestone. For second doses, the goal is also 90 per cent, with 1.5 million doses needed to reach that.

To book a vaccine or to access information on COVID-19, there is now one streamlined number for the Provincial Vaccine Contact Centre. It can be reached at 1-833-943-3900 seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. It's available in more than 300 languages.


Maija Hoggett

About the Author: Maija Hoggett

Maija Hoggett is an experienced journalist who covers Timmins and area
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