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September 14, 2021- Ontario Releasing Guidance to Support Proof of Vaccination Policy

As the province continues to respond to the fourth wave of the pandemic driven by the highly transmissible Delta variant, the government is further protecting Ontarians through continued actions that encourage every eligible person to get vaccinated and help stop the spread of COVID-19.

Today the government released the regulations and guidance for businesses and organizations to support them in implementing proof of vaccination requirements, which take effect on September 22, 2021. Requiring proof of vaccination will help increase vaccination rates, protect individuals in higher-risk indoor settings, and keep businesses open.

“High rates of vaccination against COVID-19 are critical to helping protect our communities and hospital capacity while keeping Ontario schools and businesses safely open,” said Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health. “As we continue our last mile push to increase vaccination rates, requiring proof of immunization in select settings will encourage even more Ontarians to receive the vaccine and stop the spread of COVID-19. If you haven’t received your first or second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, please sign up today.”

In advance of September 22, all Ontarians can print or download their vaccination receipt from the provincial booking portal. The Ministry is working on additional supports and services to assist Ontario residents who need help obtaining proof of vaccination, including requesting a copy be sent by mail. Those who need support obtaining a copy of their vaccination receipt including those who do not have access to a computer or printer can call the Provincial Vaccine Contact Centre at 1-833-943-3900.

Ontario is developing an enhanced vaccine certificate with a unique QR code to make it safer, more secure and convenient to show that you have been vaccinated, when required to do so. The enhanced vaccine certificate and verification app will be available by October 22, 2021. Ontario’s proof of vaccination guidance will be updated to reflect the new processes.

“Businesses need a smart, quick and safe solution to verify vaccination,” said Kaleed Rasheed, Associate Minister of Digital Government. “The made-in-Ontario enhanced vaccine certificate for the public and the verification app for businesses are tools to confirm that an individual has been vaccinated while protecting Ontarians’ health data.”

The proof of vaccination policy has resulted in a marked increase in vaccination rates. Between September 1 and September 8, 2021, the seven-day average for first doses administered increased by more than 29 per cent, from over 11,400 doses to over 14,700 doses. During that time, more than 90,000 first doses and 102,000 second doses were administered in Ontario to individuals aged 18 to 59.

To further increase vaccine uptake, the province is continuing its last mile strategy to reach eligible individuals who have yet to receive a first or second dose. This includes:

  • The provincial call centre booking or rebooking more than 135,000 appointments;
  • The GO-VAXX bus administering more than 3,700 doses with 50 per cent being first doses, since launching on August 7, 2021;
  • Setting up a Provincial Vaccine Confidence Line that individuals can call to speak with an experienced agent or health specialist about COVID-19 vaccine questions; and
  • Supporting more than 550 vaccination clinics in or nearby elementary, secondary and post-secondary schools that are currently operational or planned for the near future.

“As we continue to see cases of COVID-19 in our communities, we must keep up the fight against the transmission of this virus and its variants to create a safer environment for ourselves, our families and our communities,” said Solicitor General Sylvia Jones. “The best defense against COVID-19 is getting a vaccine and encouraging everyone who is eligible to get vaccinated too. Wearing a mask and practising physical distancing where possible are public health measures we all must continue to follow.”

To further protect those who face the highest risk from COVID-19 and the Delta variant, the government, in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health is following the evidence and recommendations from the National Advisory Committee on Immunization and will begin offering third doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to additional groups, such as individuals with moderate or severe primary immunodeficiency, individuals receiving active treatment for significantly immunosuppressive conditions and those with acquired immunodeficiency syndrome. Locations and timing for third doses will vary by public health unit and high-risk population based on local planning and considerations.

“Getting fully vaccinated is the most important step you can take to protect yourself and others,” said Dr. Kieran Moore, Chief Medical Officer of Health. “To provide the best protection to some of our more vulnerable populations, we are offering a third dose to additional groups of immunocompromised people who are more likely to have had a less than adequate immune response to the initial two dose COVID-19 vaccine series. I continue to strongly encourage anyone eligible who hasn’t already come forward to get their COVID-19 shot, to do so today to do their part to help keep themselves, their loved ones and our communities safe.”

Media Release

Guidance for Businesses & Organizations

September 1, 2021 - Ontario to Require Proof of Vaccination in Select Settings

To further protect Ontarians as the province continues to confront the Delta-driven fourth wave of the COVID-19, the government, in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health, will require people to be fully vaccinated and provide proof of their vaccination status to access certain businesses and settings starting September 22, 2021. Requiring proof of vaccination in these settings reduces risk and is an important step to encourage every last eligible Ontarian to get their shot, which is critical to protecting the province’s hospital capacity, while also supporting businesses with the tools they need to keep customers safe, stay open and minimize disruptions.

“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 Premier Ford. “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.”

As of September 22, 2021, Ontarians will need to be fully vaccinated (two doses plus 14 days) and provide their proof of vaccination along with photo ID to access certain public settings and facilities. This approach focuses on higher-risk indoor public settings where face coverings cannot always be worn and includes:

  • Restaurants and bars (excluding outdoor patios, as well as delivery and takeout);
  • Nightclubs (including outdoor areas of the establishment);
  • Meeting and event spaces, such as banquet halls and conference/convention centres;
  • Facilities used for sports and fitness activities and personal fitness training, such as gyms, fitness and recreational facilities with the exception of 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 (e.g., horse racing).

These mandatory requirements would not apply to outdoor settings where the risk of transmission is lower, including patios, with the exception of outdoor nightclub spaces given the risk associated with the setting. In addition, these requirements will not apply to settings where people receive medical care, food from grocery stores, medical supplies and the like. Aligned with public health measures currently in place, indoor masking policies will continue to remain in place.

“We know vaccines provide the best protection against COVID-19 and the Delta variant,” said Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health. “To protect the health and well-being of Ontarians, our government will offer one more tool to encourage even more Ontarians to receive the vaccine and provide further protection to fully vaccinated Ontarians as they safely enjoy activities with their loved ones and support their local businesses.”

Individuals who cannot receive the vaccine due to medical exemptions will be permitted entry with a doctor’s note until recognized medical exemptions can be integrated as part of a digital vaccine certificate. Children who are 11 years of age and younger and unable to be vaccinated will also be exempted from these requirements.

For the period between September 22 and October 12, 2021, it is intended that people attending wedding or funeral receptions at meeting or event spaces will be able to provide a negative rapid antigen COVID-19 test from no more than 48 hours before the event as an alternative to proof of vaccination. These rapid antigen tests would have to be privately purchased.

Ontario will develop and provide additional tools to improve user experience, efficiency and business supports in the coming weeks, including establishing alternative tools for people with no email, health card or ID. The government will work to support implementation of vaccine certificates for Indigenous communities whether or not they have opted to enter their data into COVaxON, while maintaining Indigenous data governance, control, access and possession principles.

Ontarians currently have access to a paper or PDF vaccine receipt that includes all relevant information to prove that they are fully vaccinated. As of September 22, Ontarians will be required to show their vaccine receipt when entering designated settings along with another piece of photo identification, such as a driver’s licence or health card. This is similar initial implementation approach announced in British Columbia.

Ontario will also introduce an enhanced digital vaccine receipt that features a QR code, which is safe, more secure and with you wherever you go. This digital vaccine receipt can be kept on a phone and easily used to show that you've been vaccinated if you need to. In addition, the province will launch a new app to make it easier and more convenient for businesses and organizations to read and verify that a digital vaccine receipt is valid, while protecting your privacy.

As the 2021-22 school year begins, it is critical to keep Ontario schools safe and students learning in-person. The province will work with trusted public health units to use the existing COVaxON system to safely and securely confirm the vaccination status of students. The province is committed to keeping parents informed about how their child’s COVID-19 vaccine information and enrollment data is being used to keep schools safe. This will equip local public health units with the information they need to ensure rapid case and contact management if required to limit disruptions in the event of cases or outbreaks and keep kids in class.

“We are already seeing a rise in the number of cases of COVD-19 as we head into the fall,” said Dr. Kieran Moore, Chief Medical Officer of Health. “As we enter the last mile push to increase vaccination rates, the introduction of a vaccine certificate is an important step to give people the tools to limit further spread of the virus so that we can ensure the safety of all Ontarians while keeping the province open and operational.”

“Combining the use of a QR code with a trusted, made in Ontario verifier app will help support the province’s health measures,” said Kaleed Rasheed, Associate Minister of Digital Government. “These tools will provide a simpler, faster, and better way to prove vaccination status that is both convenient and secure – while also supporting businesses with an easy validation process.”

Media Release

July 9th, 2021 - Ontario Moving to Step Three of Roadmap to Reopen on July 16

With key public health and health care indicators continuing to improve and the provincewide vaccination rate surpassing the targets outlined in the province’s Roadmap to Reopen, in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health the Ontario government is moving the province into Step Three of the Roadmap to Reopen at 12:01 a.m. on Friday, July 16, 2021.

In order to enter Step Three of the Roadmap, Ontario needed to have vaccinated 70 to 80 per cent of individuals 18 years of age or older with one dose and 25 per cent with two doses for at least two weeks, ensuring a stronger level of protection against COVID-19. Thanks to the dedicated efforts of Ontario’s health care partners, as of July 8, 2021, over 77 per cent of the population in Ontario ages 12 and over have received one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and over 50 per cent have received their second dose. More than 16.6 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered provincewide.

“Ontario has continued to see improvements in key health indicators, allowing the province to move to Step Three of the Roadmap and safely resume more of the activities we’ve missed,” said Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health. “While this is exciting news, we most still remain vigilant and continue to follow the public health measure we know work and keep us safe. Vaccines remain our ticket out of the pandemic so if you haven’t booked your appointment yet, please do so today.”

Step Three of the Roadmap focuses on the resumption of additional indoor services with larger numbers of people and restrictions in place. This includes, but is not limited to:

  • Outdoor social gatherings and organized public events with up to 100 people with limited exceptions;
  • Indoor social gatherings and organized public events with up to 25 people;
  • Indoor religious services, rites or ceremonies, including wedding services and funeral services permitted with physical distancing;
  • Indoor dining permitted with no limits on the number of patrons per table with physical distancing and other restrictions still in effect;
  • Indoor sports and recreational fitness facilities to open subject to a maximum 50 per cent capacity of the indoor space. Capacity for indoor spectators is 50 per cent of the usual seating capacity or 1,000 people, whichever is less. Capacity for outdoor spectators is 75 per cent of the usual seating capacity or 15,000 people, whichever is less;
  • Indoor meeting and event spaces permitted to operate with physical distancing and other restrictions still in effect and capacity limited to not exceed 50 per cent capacity or 1,000 people, (whichever is less);
  • Essential and non-essential retail with with capacity limited to the number of people that can maintain a physical distance of two metres;
  • Personal care services, including services requiring the removal of a face covering, with capacity limited to the number of people that can maintain a physical distance of two metres;
  • Museums, galleries, historic sites, aquariums, zoos, landmarks, botanical gardens, science centres, casinos/bingo halls, amusement parks, fairs and rural exhibitions, festivals, with capacity limited to not exceed 50 per cent capacity indoors and 75 per cent capacity outdoors;
  • Concert venues, cinemas, and theatres permitted to operate at:
    • up to 50 per cent capacity indoors or a maximum limit of 1,000 people for seated events (whichever is less)
    • up to 75 per cent capacity outdoors or a maximum limit of 5,000 people for unseated events (whichever is less); and up to 75 per cent capacity outdoors or a maximum of 15,000 people for events with fixed seating (whichever is less).
  • Real estate open houses with capacity limited to the number of people that can maintain a physical distance of two metres; and
  • Indoor food or drink establishments where dance facilities are provided, including nightclubs and restobars, permitted up to 25 per cent capacity or up to a maximum limit of 250 people (whichever is less).

Face coverings in indoor public settings and physical distancing requirements remain in place throughout Step Three. This is in alignment with the advice on personal public health measures issued by the Public Health Agency of Canada, while also accounting for Ontario specific information and requirements. Face coverings will also be required in some outdoor public settings as well.

Please view the regulation for the full list of public health and workplace safety measures that need to be followed.

“Thanks to the continued efforts of Ontarians adhering to public health measures and advice, as well as going out to get vaccinated, we have seen most key health indicators continue to improve,” said Dr. Kieran Moore, Chief Medical Officer of Health. “However, the pandemic is not over and we must all remain vigilant and continue following the measures and advice in place, as the Delta variant continues to pose a threat to public health.”

The province will remain in Step Three of the Roadmap for at least 21 days and until 80 per cent of the eligible population aged 12 and over has received one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 75 per cent have received their second, with no public health unit having less than 70 per cent of their eligible population aged 12 and over fully vaccinated. Other key public health and health care indicators must also continue to remain stable. Upon meeting these thresholds, the vast majority of public health and workplace safety measures, including capacity limits for indoor and outdoor settings and limits for social gatherings, will be lifted. Only a small number of measures will remain in place, including the requirement for passive screening, such as posting a sign, and businesses requiring a safety plan.

Ontario’s epidemiological situation is distinct from other jurisdictions and the Delta variant is the dominant strain in Ontario, which is not the case with some other provinces. As a result, on the advice of the Chief Medical Officer of Health, face coverings will also continue to be required for indoor public settings. The Chief Medical Officer of Health will continue to evaluate this need on an ongoing basis.

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