Ontario rolling out vaccine passport system on Sept. 22

0
291
Ontario rolling out vaccine passport system on Sept. 22
Ontario rolling out vaccine passport system on Sept. 22

Ontario’s vaccine passport system will come into effect for certain businesses Sept. 22.

Premier Doug Ford made the announcement Wednesday afternoon, with the certificate system requiring people be fully vaccinated and provide proof of their vaccination status to access a number of indoor public settings considered by the province to be higher risk, and where face coverings cannot always be worn.

These include restaurants and bars, excluding outdoor patios, delivery and takeout; nightclubs, including outdoor areas; meeting and event spaces, such as banquet halls and conference or convention centres; sports and fitness facilities, such as gyms, with the exception of youth recreational sports; sporting events; casinos, bingo halls and gaming establishments; concerts, music festivals, theatres and cinemas; strip clubs, bathhouses and sex clubs; and racing venues, such as horse racing.

Ford, who previously opposed vaccine passports, said, “It’s not secret. This is something that I did not want to do. This is a serious step that we’re not taking lightly and I know this is going to be very difficult for some people.

“And let me be clear, this is a temporary tool that we won’t use for a day longer than we have to. But after talking to (chief medical officer of health) Dr. (Kieran) Moore, I know that this is what we have to do right now in the face of this fourth wave, because these certificates are necessary to keep our hospitals safe and to avoid another lockdown. This is a right decision for our kids, our businesses and for all Ontarians.”

A statement from North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit medical officer of health Dr. Jim Chirico, who last week backed an Ontario-wide vaccine passport, said he supports the province’s decision.

“At this time, I don’t have any additional information on the plan for vaccine certificates, but the health unit will be communicating as we learn more,” he said.

In an email, Mayor Al McDonald, who last week also stated his support for vaccine passports, said ever since the media conference held at city hall March 17, 2020, the No. 1 priority has been the safety of citizens.

“And we have not wavered,” he said.

“I have always been supportive of measures that protect our citizens’ health and we are proud that we are the second lowest in the province per capita (at times we were the lowest) during the pandemic (for cases),” he said.

McDonald pointed to the North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit’s current vaccination status – more than 81 per cent have received at least one dose and more than 74 per cent are fully vaccinated.

“It is important for people to get back to normal as (soon as) possible and stay there without further lockdown measures due to hospitalization capacity and illness. It is important that our local businesses are not closed again as this would be devastating. I view this measure as a way to protect our community, our citizens’ health and support our local businesses, and get life back to normal or as best to normal ASAP,” he said.

“I encourage everyone that is on the fence about vaccines to call their medical professionals if they have any concerns or questions as there is a lot of misinformation out there.”

Ford indicated that the measures would be enforced by bylaw officers, of which McDonald said all three levels of government need to work together to put in place safety measures.

“As such, this is something I can support in these efforts,” he said.

Under the new rules, Ontarians will need to have received two doses, with at least 14 days having passed since receiving the second, and show proof of their vaccination along with photo ID to access the types of businesses listed.

With the exception of outdoor nightclubs, the requirements will not apply to outdoor settings, such as patios, where the risk of transmission is lower, or places where people receive medical care, food from grocery stores and medical supplies.

Medical exemptions, with a doctor’s note, will be permitted until a digital vaccine certificate is put in place.

Children who are 11 years of age and younger and unable to be vaccinated will be exempt.

“Well, there’s a lot of regulations that are going to take some time for it to be flushed through the system,” North Bay and District Chamber of Commerce president and chief executive officer Peter Chirico said.

He said the measures will impact small businesses, and especially the hospitality sector, which will have to police the rules and may require additional staffing.

However, he said it will allow those businesses to stay open, “even with the limits that are being placed.”

He added that “everyone is trying to be safe, everyone is trying to operate their business, so let’s give everyone a bit of a break.”

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.