Ontario's vaccine certificates likely to remain in place past January: Health minister
Ontario’s vaccine certificates will likely remain in place for months beyond January, the minister of health said Monday.
Speaking at question period, Minister of Health Christine Elliott was asked repeatedly about plans to begin lifting vaccine certificate requirements in January. She said that the province is following the science.
“The reality is there’s so much about the Omicron variant that we don’t know about yet,” said Elliott.
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Ontario’s original reopening plan would see vaccine certificate requirements begin to lift in low-risk settings starting on January 17. It laid out plans to lift all COVID-19 restrictions by March 28, 2022. Since the first phase of reopening, cases in the province have been steadily rising. Hospitalizations are also on the rise.
Ontario NDP leader Andrea Horwath continued to push for an answer as to whether or not the province will go ahead with lifting the vaccine certificate.
“Why won’t the Premier commit today to keeping vaccine certificates in place beyond January 17?” Horwath asked.
Elliott maintained that the province is following the current data available and that they are keeping a close eye on the Omicron variant.
“We’re planning to start lifting things, but if this Omicron variant circulates widely and if it is as virulent as it has been in other jurisdictions, we are going to need to take a look at that,” she said. “Dr. [Keiran] Moore has said that from day one, that if there is a major change in circumstances, we will have to reconsider, as we’re reconsidering every step along the way.”
The province has already slowed reopening plans as COVID-19 cases began to rise in the province. Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Moore, announced the pause on the next stage of reopening last month.
When Horwath asked again for a commitment to keep vaccine certificates in place past January 17, Elliott conceded that the system would likely be needed for longer.
“We anticipate we will need it for at least another several months if everything is alright, maybe for longer than that once we know more about the Omicron variant,” she said.
“We are following evidence that we are following the science and every step we take.”
Dr. Moore is expected to make an announcement on COVID-19 Tuesday at 1:30 pm. It is not yet clear what the announcement will be. The briefing will be in addition to his usual weekly COVID-19 meeting held on Thursdays at 3:00 pm.