Proof-of-vaccination plan begins today in Ontario

Certificate program begins Sept. 22

The Ontario government tried to bring a little more clarity to assist the public and businesses to navigate the proof-of-vaccination system that comes into effect today (Sept. 22).

The province has added a list of exemptions to the new vaccine certificate program.

They include:

  • When a patron enters an indoor area solely to use a washroom, pay for an order or access an outdoor area that can only be accessed through an indoor route.
  • When a patron enters an indoor area to place or pick up an order (including placing a bet or picking up winnings at a horse racing track), to purchase admission, to make a retail purchase, and for the “necessary purposes of health and safety.” 
  • Children under 12 years old.
  • Patrons under 18 years old who are entering the indoor premises of a recreational facility solely for the purpose of actively participating in an organized sport. 
  • Weddings, funerals, rites or ceremonies, when the patron is not attending the associated social gathering (for example, the reception after a wedding ceremony). 
  • Patrons with a written document from a physician or a nurse stating they are exempt for medical reasons.

The program will require residents to show proof they have been double-dosed against COVID-19 at least two weeks prior to entering a non-essential business.

The amended list from the province includes:

  • Restaurants and bars (excluding outdoor patios, delivery and takeout).
  • Nightclubs, including outdoor areas.
  • Meeting and event spaces like banquet halls and convention centres.
  • Sports and fitness facilities and gyms, with the exception of youth recreational sports.
  • Sporting events.
  • Casinos, bingo halls and gaming establishments.
  • Concerts, music festivals, theatres and cinemas.
  • Strip clubs, bath houses and sex clubs.
  • Racing venues.
  • Indoor areas of waterparks. 
  • Areas of commercial TV, where studio audiences will be treated as patrons who have to be fully vaccinated. 

Those businesses and organizations impacted by the new rules must cross-reference vaccination receipts with identification such as a passport, birth certificate, or driver’s licence. The receipt must show any customer has been fully vaccinated for 14 days.

If businesses or individuals don’t comply, officials say they could be fined or charged.

Ontarians will need their current vaccination receipt along with photo identification to enter non-essential businesses.

If you have a green photo OHIP card, you can download or print your receipts from the provincial government website. Those with a red and white health card can call the Provincial Vaccine Booking Line at 1-833-943-3900.

Ontarians who received their first or second jab out of the province are being asked to contact their local public health unit to get the documentation they need.

At a media briefing on Tuesday, the province reassured businesses that additional guidance for them will be updated prior to Oct. 22, when Ontario will shift to certificates that include QR codes containing basically the same information that is on the current vaccination receipts.

The public can download or print proof-of-vaccine receipts from the province’s website, and this is the material customers will have to show at the door of establishments.

If you are more comfortable with the print version after Oct. 22, the government says that won’t be a problem.

Health Minister Christine Elliott said supports will be in place for business operators that feel threatened.

“We want to make sure everyone conforms to these rules, but if anyone feels threatened we have the facilities available for people to seek help,” Elliott said.

“I don’t anticipate demand will be huge, we’re asking people to be reasonable, we’ve let people know what the requirements are,” she said.