The province of Ontario will adapt a vaccine passport system that will allow residents to enter non-essential venues, such as a gyms, restaurants, movie theatres and concert venues, Premier Doug Ford said on Wednesday (Sept. 1).
"After in-depth discussions with our medical experts, we've landed on a vaccine certificate policy that is based on evidence and the best advice," Ford told reporters yesterday.
The digital certificate, which applies to many indoor spaces, will keep non-essential businesses open as the Delta variant continues to cause a fourth COVID-19 wave across Canada, Ford said..
"We have two options here. We either do this or we risk shutting down the economy, which would even be worse, having our hospital capacity maxed out and at the brink, having our kids stay at home, our college and university kids going back online,” the Premier said. “That is what we are trying to avoid.”
As of Sept. 22, 2021, Ontarians will need to be fully vaccinated (two doses plus 14 days) and provide their proof of vaccination along with photo ID to access certain public settings and facilities: “higher-risk indoor public settings where face coverings cannot always be worn,” including:
- 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).
These mandatory requirements will not apply to outdoor settings, including patios, with the exception of outdoor nightclub spaces given the risk associated with the setting.
In addition, the requirements will not apply to settings where people receive medical care, food from grocery stores, medical supplies and the like.
Then, beginning Oct. 22, the province will switch over to a QR code-based app, which will contain people’s health details, such as one’s vaccination status.
“This digital vaccine receipt can be kept on a phone and easily used to show that you've been vaccinated if you need to,” the provinces said.
“Combining the use of a QR code with a trusted, made in Ontario verifier app will help support the province’s health measures,” said Kaleed Rasheed, associate Minister of Digital Government. “These tools will provide a simpler, faster, and better way to prove vaccination status that is both convenient and secure – while also supporting businesses with an easy validation process.”
Churches and places where extended stays occur, such as hair salons, were excluded from the program.
The plan is to make the app usable in other provinces that are using vaccine passport systems and, eventually, integrate the technology with Ottawa’s soon-to-be-unveiled passport platform for international travel, officials said.
Credentials for travel coming soon
Last month, federal officials said a vaccine credential program for foreign travel will launch in “early fall,” without specifying an exact date.
This credential will be available to Canadian citizens, permanent residents and temporary residents if they are fully vaccinated according to standards set by public health.
Speaking to reports on Aug. 11, Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs Dominic LeBlanc didn’t say if Ottawa's vaccine credential system would be used on the domestic level, implying, instead, that it would be up to each province to develop a proof-of-vaccination system of their own.
Yesterday, Quebec launched its own COVID-19 vaccine passport system, barring non-vaccinated individuals from restaurants, movie theatres, gyms, team sports and indoor pools (while granting rare exemptions for medical reasons).
Canada’s national credential program for foreign travel will be digital, "involve a code," and it will be standardized so when Canadians are travelling abroad, there will be a "hallmark that readily identifies" that they are from Canada, Canada’s Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino said on that same date.
The platform will be "reliable, standardized and accessible," Mendicino said, adding that the technology will "safeguard everyone’s privacy."
Travellers entering Canada, currently, are required to input a quarantine plan, a self-assessment of their health and upload images of their vaccination receipts into the ArriveCAN app – software launched last year – prior to boarding their flight.
The ArriveCAN app helps inform inbound international travel decisions, Minister Mendicino said, and the hope is that elements of that technology can be "integrated and woven into" the new program.