After deliberation with public health authorities, Premier Doug Ford has announced Ontario will be implementing a vaccine passport system effective September 22. The system will require residents to show proof of vaccination by providing a Covid-19 vaccine receipt and a piece of government-issued photo ID to enter restaurants, night clubs, gyms, sporting events, and other high-risk public spaces where face masks cannot constantly be worn.
On October 22, the government will launch the digital vaccination certificate that will be a unique QR code to validate vaccination status. Residents will be able to print or store the code on their cell phone where they will also keep their government-issued photo ID. Businesses and facilities are currently working on applications to scan and validate the QR codes.
The Ontario government is also in the process of creating a system for those individuals without an email, health card, or ID to prove vaccination status. Indigenous communities will also receive resources and support to effectively implement the certificate system.
Officials have promptly urged that a negative Covid-19 test will not replace the vaccine certificates. This means people attending funerals and weddings will only be able to provide a negative test as proof between September 22 and October 12.
In circumstances where children under twelve or people with medical exemptions are unable to get immunized from the virus, their status will not prevent them from entering high-risk public spaces.
Vaccination status will not prevent the public from accessing medical care, food from grocery stores, basic medical supplies or other essentials. Individuals who are unvaccinated will still be able to attend polls and cast their vote in the federal election.
To determine which regions should require proof of vaccination, officials have assessed data on the hot spots in Ontario. Non-essential businesses such as salons and barbershops are exempted from the certificate rule because data shows that the transmission risk is not as high in those settings due to strong infection control practices.
Further, a certificate is not required for retail shopping, salons and barbershops, banks, places of worship, essential services, workplaces or patios and other outdoor spaces.
However, if cases surge in these places of low transmission, Ontario’s Medical Officer of Health Dr. Kieran Moore reassures the public in an interview with CP24 News that “if the risk increases in other venues, we can add and implement additional measures to protect Ontarians.”
Officials have discussed the consequences for businesses, facilities, and individuals who refuse to comply with the system. The Reopening Ontario Act will grant authority to enforce strict measures towards these groups such as the issuing of fines.
The Medium spoke with Arianne Joyce Padillo, a fourth-year student majoring in political science and French studies. Padillo comments on how the vaccine certificate system will positively impact her lifestyle as she will feel safer when going out in public.
Padillo states, “visiting public spaces is difficult for me to do these days because I have to place a lot of trust in those around me—trusting that they’re doing their part to contribute to the public’s safety and well-being. A vaccine passport will comfort myself and my family when present in the spaces that require them because we can trust that those people have done their part to keep their community safe.”
Though there have been some protests regarding the passport system, the system will aid in a safer economy and community by fighting against the spread of the virus.