In three weeks, people will need to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 to access restaurants, nightclubs, gyms, and other high-risk public spaces.
With the fourth wave of the pandemic underway, Ontario's vaccine passport goes into effect Sept. 22. On that day, people will need proof of being fully vaccinated — two doses, plus 14 days — to visit certain public settings. In October, a digital vaccine certificate will be introduced.
Premier Doug Ford made the announcement this afternoon. While he has been hesitant to move forward with a vaccine certificate up until now, public health officers and other groups and organizations have been calling for the program.
“As the world continues its fight against the Delta variant, our government will never waver in our commitment to do what’s necessary to keep people safe, protect our hospitals and minimize disruptions to businesses,” said Ford in a news release.
“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.”
According to today's announcement, proof of vaccination and a photo ID will be required for high-risk indoor public settings where face coverings cannot always be worn. It includes:
- Restaurants and bars, with the exemption of outdoor patios, delivery and takeout
- Nightclubs, including outdoor areas
- Meeting and event spaces, such as banquet halls and conference or convention centres
- Gyms and other fitness and recreational facilities, not including 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
Ford said the certificate is a temporary tool.
People who are 12 and under or unvaccinated people with medical exemptions will be allowed to enter these settings.
Vaccination status will not prevent people from accessing medical care, food from grocery stores, basic medical supplies or other essentials. It will also not affect voting in the upcoming federal election.
People with a negative test or who recently recovered from COVID-19 will not be allowed to enter the places requiring full vaccination.
From Sept. 22 to Oct. 12, people attending wedding or funeral receptions at meeting or event space will be allowed to provide a negative rapid antigen COVID-19 test as an alternative to vaccination. The test must be from no more than 48 hours before the event and will have to be privately purchased.