Ontario Premier Doug Ford assured Ontarians Wednesday that the new vaccine passport is a temporary measure. He continued that his office would follow directions from health officials about when to retire it.
Ford also said he’s sympathetic to concerns about the vaccine certificate, adding he was reluctant to implement it but ultimately decided it was necessary given the extraordinary circumstances.
“I know this is a divisive issue, and that’s understandable,” he said during a news conference at Queen’s Park. “I don’t want to do it a day longer than we have to.”
At the same time, Ford said the passport was necessary to protect the province’s hard-fought progress against COVID-19 and avoid closures and case count spikes this fall.
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Ontario’s vaccine passport system took effect on Wednesday. People must show a PDF receipt as proof of immunization along with a piece of photo ID for many indoor recreational activities.
The rules apply to eating at restaurants, working out at a gym, or watching a movie in a theatre.
Several other Canadian provinces are already using vaccine passports, including BC, Manitoba, and Quebec.
Ford declined to elaborate on specific benchmarks that would signal when to get rid of the passport. Instead, he deferred to guidance from the Chief Medical Officer of Health and the Ontario COVID-19 Science Table.
“Can give you an exact date, but hopefully it will be sooner than later,” he said.
The province strives to reach a 90% vaccination rate against COVID-19, which experts say would be enough to achieve herd immunity.