Ontario officials announced on Wednesday that the province will implement a proof of vaccination system, or a COVID-19 vaccine passport, for non-essential activities this fall.
This makes Ontario the fourth province to implement a type of vaccine passport, and it came after many calls from health experts, businesses, and even encouragement from the prime minister.
Here’s what you need to know:
What will the vaccine passport look like?
At first people will need to show their PDF receipt of immunization along with government-issued photo ID.
By October 22, the government plans to release a verification app that will scan forthcoming QR codes confirming vaccination status.
Businesses can scan people’s QR codes to see if they’re immunized. The distributed app businesses use will display a simple “yes” or “no” along with the person’s name.
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Where will I need to show it?
People will need to show proof of immunization for the following activities:
- Dining indoors at a restaurant (but not getting takeout or eating on a patio)
- Gyms and fitness centres
- Nightclubs (including outdoor nightclubs)
- Meeting or event spaces including banquet halls and conference centres
- Sports events
- Casinos and other gambling establishments
- Concerts and music festivals
- Horse racing venues
- Strip clubs, bathhouses, and sex clubs
Retail stores are not included, but individual businesses can choose to require vaccine certificates for shoppers to enter.
When will it come into effect?
The program begins September 22. People will need to show they have had both shots a minimum of 14 days ago.
Anyone who isn’t yet fully vaccinated should schedule their second dose appointment by September 7 to ensure their activities aren’t disrupted.
Will there be any exceptions?
The rules do not apply to outdoor settings, except for outdoor nightclubs.
Here are all the other things you can still access without the vaccine passport:
- Necessary medical care
- Grocery stores
- Medical supplies
- Voting in the federal election
- Takeout from a restaurant
- Eating on a patio
- People can attend a wedding or funeral without both shots until October 12 if they provide a negative COVID-19 test
Children under 12 who are ineligible to be vaccinated will not need the certificate.
Certain medically valid exemptions will be permitted, but there is no option for people who are unvaccinated by choice to submit COVID-19 tests instead.
Legitimate medical exemptions include allergies to ingredients in the vaccine and experiencing myocarditis or pericarditis following a first dose. People with medical exemptions will still get a QR code that they need to scan — and it will tell the business they’re allowed to enter.
The Government of Ontario says it’s currently working on solutions for people with no email or no health card.
What if I’m visiting from out-of-province?
People who got vaccinated outside of Ontario are required to show their immunization status with whatever certificate or card they were given, along with photo ID.
The government says it’s working on ways to make it more efficient for people from outside of Ontario to have their documents verified more easily.