Ontario to Require COVID-19 Vaccine Certificates to Enter Certain Public Places Effective September 22nd, 2021
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 which 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, including patios. In addition, these requirements will not apply to settings where people receive medical care, grocery stores, and medical supplies. Also, these requirements will not apply to voting in the upcoming Federal Election.
All other current public health measures including indoor masking policies will continue to remain in place.
Please note: A negative COVID-19 test or recent COVID-19 infection will not entitle a person to enter these settings, with narrow time limited exceptions for weddings and funerals between September 22nd and October 12th.
How This Will Be Implemented
Everyone who has received a vaccine should have received a vaccine receipt through their e-mail immediately after receiving their shot. In addition to some personal information, this PDF file lists what COVID-19 vaccine you’ve received, when you’ve received it and how many doses. These PDFs can be printed or downloaded to your electronic device. From September 22 to October 21, 2021, 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. These documents must be presented when entering the establishment – they cannot be pre-displayed in advance of entering.
By October 22nd, Ontario will introduce an enhanced digital vaccine receipt that features a QR code which will contain similar information to the current PDF certificate. This QR code will protect data privacy by limiting the personal health information displayed when scanned. 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. This new certificate will incorporate standard technology to enable it to be read across jurisdictions outside of Ontario and to make it interoperable with the federal vaccine passport for international travel.
Starting October 22 (once the QR code verification app launches), organizations and venues will scan the unique QR codes on vaccine certificates to verify their authenticity. Individuals can print their vaccine certificate or store it on their mobile device to be presented when entering the establishment – the vaccine certificate cannot be pre-displayed in advance of entering.
In the coming weeks, Ontario will come up with a process for those without an e-mail address, health card or ID, as well as support the implementation of vaccine certificates for Indigenous Communities. Those with questions about how to access their vaccine certificates can call 1-833-943-3900.
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.
The province will use the Reopening Ontario Act to support enforcement. Warnings followed by penalties will be issued to individuals and businesses contravening these regulations. MLTSD (Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development) and law enforcement officers will enforce these regulations.
A Note from NOTO:
Although this may not be the news you all want to hear, we must keep in mind that this new temporary measure has been put into place to avoid another province-wide shutdown and further closures for businesses. We are aware that the need for COVID-19 Vaccine Certificates may cause additional barriers and could lead to cancellations from some domestic bookings. We are also aware that having a digital only format past October 22nd will cause challenges for operators with limited to no access to internet connections. Rest assured we will continue to bring these messages forward to Government.
As always, let us know if you have any questions about this latest announcement. We will do our best to find answers and to keep the industry up to date in our newsletters and on our COVID-19 page.
We would like to thank TIAO for providing us with some additional information on this announcement.
Q. Will proof of vaccination requirements apply to my staff?
No. As it currently stands, proof of vaccination requirements will apply to customers only. Businesses are encouraged to urge their staff to get vaccinated or screen employees in advance of each shift to ensure they are not experiencing symptoms and provide them with protective PPE while working.
Q. How do I prove I am fully vaccinated if I am from out-of-province or out-of-country?
Individuals visiting from outside the province or the country will be required to show their full vaccination status and identification to enter prescribed settings. Ontario will develop and provide additional tools to improve user experience, efficiency, and business supports in the coming weeks, including ensuring verification of fully vaccinated individuals from outside of province or country.
Q. Does a previous COVID-19 infection or negative COVID-19 test allow you to enter these settings?
No, a previous infection is not a substitute for being fully vaccinated.
Q. Why isn’t the province increasing capacity limits for the settings where proof of vaccination is required?
The province is keeping all public health measures, including capacity limits, as they are due to the Delta variant in hopes to avoid future lockdowns and protect hospital capacity. The Government will continue to evaluate when it may be safe to consider expanding capacity limits in settings that are captured by the new vaccine certificate policy.
Q. How will this impact guiding services?
Proof of vaccination will not be required in outdoor settings.
Q. How will this impact my dining services?
Individuals will require proof of vaccination for any indoor dining. For those without proof of vaccination, you may need to return to “delivery” type services. We are still waiting for the official regulations to be released to see how these changes will impact our sector. NOTO will let the industry know as soon as we receive clarification.
Q. How can I get my proof of vaccination?
Currently, vaccine receipts are available in PDF form to be downloaded or printed to your computer, phone or tablet. Ontarians who received their first or second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine out of province should contact their local public health unit to record their information and receive proper documentation. You may have already received your vaccination receipt by email after you received your second dose if vaccine.
Both proof of identity along with proof of vaccination will be required. Individuals can provide proof of immunization by downloading or printing their vaccine receipt from the provincial booking portal, or by calling the Provincial Vaccine Booking Line at 1-833-943-3900.
Q. What if an individual does not want to disclose their vaccination status?
It is the discretion of the individual to determine whether they would like to disclose their vaccination status. Should they make the decision not to divulge this information, they will not be permitted to access settings that require proof of vaccination.
Q. Will people with medical exemptions be allowed to access settings requiring proof of vaccination?
The only exemptions permitted to enter these settings are for unvaccinated people with medical exemptions and people under 12 years old. Individuals who cannot receive the vaccine due to medical exemptions will be permitted with a doctor’s note until the medical exemption can be integrated as part of a digital vaccine certificate.
Q. Will individuals aged 11 and under be allowed to access settings requiring proof of vaccination?
Individuals aged 11 and under will be eligible to access these settings. If they are accompanied by an adult, the adult must be vaccinated.
Q. How will businesses verify digital vaccination certificates?
Ontario will develop and implement an enhanced vaccine certificate with unique QR code and accompanying verification app that will allow users to securely and safely verify their vaccination status when scanned. The enhanced vaccine certificate, as well as a verification app to allow businesses to read the QR code, will be available beginning October 22. Guidance will be provided to business ahead of September 22 to ensure they are prepared.
Q. How long will a vaccine credential be in place?
Vaccine credentials are a temporary measure to address health and safety in the COVID-19 pandemic. How long they are necessary will be monitored and evaluated based on data and the advice of the Chief Medical Officer of Health.
We will continue to update our COVID-19 page as additional information becomes available. As always, please reach out to NOTO staff if you have any additional questions. We will make sure to regularly update FAQs on our COVID page as well.
To view FAQ’s compiled by the Ontario Government, please click here.