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Doug Ford, Premier of Ontario

Ontario will require proof of COVID-19 vaccination for certain settings as of Sept. 22

Wednesday, September 01, 2021 @ 3:20 PM | By Amanda Jerome


On Sept. 1, the Ontario government announced proof of COVID-19 vaccination will be required to access some non-essential services.

According to a government release, proof of vaccination will be required starting Sept. 22.

 Premier Doug Ford

Premier Doug Ford

“Based on the latest evidence and best advice, COVID-19 vaccine certificates give us the best chance to slow the spread of this virus while helping us to avoid further lockdowns. If you haven’t received your first or second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, please do so today,” Premier Doug Ford said in a statement.

“My friends, it’s no secret, this is something I did not want to do. This is a serious step that we’re not taking lightly, and I know this is going to be very difficult for some people,” Ford said in a press conference.

“And let me be clear,” he added, “this is a temporary tool that we won’t use for a day longer than we have to. But after talking to Dr. [Kieran] Moore, I know that this is what we have to do right now in the face of this fourth wave because these certificates are necessary to keep our hospitals safe and to avoid another lockdown. This is the right decision for our kids, our businesses and for all Ontarians.”

The government’s announcement noted that to be fully vaccinated an individual must have two doses of COVID-19 vaccination plus 14 days after the last dose.

Ontarians will need to provide proof of vaccination “along with photo ID to access certain public settings and facilities.” The government noted that an “enhanced vaccine certificate, as well as a verification app to allow businesses to read the QR code, will be available beginning October 22.”

The government’s approach “focuses on higher-risk indoor public settings where face coverings cannot always be worn and includes:

  • restaurants and bars (excluding outdoor patios, as well as delivery and takeout);
  • nightclubs (including outdoor areas of the establishment);
  • meeting and event spaces, such as banquet halls and conference/convention centres;
  • facilities used for sports and fitness activities and personal fitness training, such as 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 (e.g., horse racing).”

The release stressed that the mandatory requirements do “not apply to outdoor settings where the risk of transmission is lower, including patios, with the exception of outdoor nightclub spaces given the risk associated with the setting.”

“In addition, these requirements will not apply to settings where people receive medical care, food from grocery stores, medical supplies and the like. Aligned with public health measures currently in place, indoor masking policies will continue to remain in place,” the release added.

The only people exempt from these requirements are those “who cannot receive the vaccine due to medical exemptions” and they “will be permitted entry with a doctor’s note until recognized medical exemptions can be integrated as part of a digital vaccine certificate.”

“Children who are 11 years of age and younger and unable to be vaccinated will also be exempted from these requirements,” the release clarified.

The government also noted that it is the “discretion of the individual to determine whether they would like to disclose their vaccination status.” However, if they decide “not to divulge this information, they will not be permitted to access settings that require proof of vaccination.”

“We are already seeing a rise in the number of cases of COVID-19 as we head into the fall,” said Dr. Kieran Moore, chief medical officer of health,” in a statement.  

“As we enter the last mile push to increase vaccination rates, the introduction of a vaccine certificate is an important step to give people the tools to limit further spread of the virus so that we can ensure the safety of all Ontarians while keeping the province open and operational,” he added.

The announcement explained that the province will “develop and provide additional tools to improve user experience, efficiency and business supports in the coming weeks, including establishing alternative tools for people with no e-mail, health card or ID.”

“The government will work to support implementation of vaccine certificates for Indigenous communities whether or not they have opted to enter their data into COVaxON, while maintaining Indigenous data governance, control, access and possession principles,” the release stressed.

The announcement also noted that currently Ontarians have “access to a paper or PDF vaccine receipt that includes all relevant information to prove that they are fully vaccinated” and, as of Sept. 22, individuals will be “required to show their vaccine receipt when entering designated settings along with another piece of photo identification, such as a driver’s licence or health card.”

“This is similar initial implementation approach announced in British Columbia,” the release added.

According to the release, “between September 22 and October 12, 2021, it is intended that people attending wedding or funeral receptions at meeting or event spaces will be able to provide a negative rapid antigen COVID-19 test from no more than 48 hours before the event as an alternative to proof of vaccination.”

“These rapid antigen tests would have to be privately purchased,” the release noted.

“Consistent with current practices under the Reopening Ontario Act,” the government explained, “enforcement will be conducted by-law officers and Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development inspectors, beginning with education and warnings.”

“We know vaccines provide the best protection against COVID-19 and the delta variant,” said Christine Elliott, deputy premier and minister of health, in a statement.

“To protect the health and well-being of Ontarians, our government will offer one more tool to encourage even more Ontarians to receive the vaccine and provide further protection to fully vaccinated Ontarians as they safely enjoy activities with their loved ones and support their local businesses,” she added.

If you have any information, story ideas or news tips for The Lawyer’s Daily please contact Amanda Jerome at Amanda.Jerome@lexisnexis.ca or call 416-524-2152.