‘Vaccine passports’ on the way
As of Sept. 22, people will be required to provide proof they are fully vaccinated before accessing specific non-essential businesses and settings, as per a new rule set out by the provincial government.
The province says the certificates, or so-called vaccine passports, “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.”
The move is the latest step in the fight against the Delta variant, the dominant strain in Simcoe-Muskoka and throughout the province, known to be more transmissible and to cause more severe illness.
Simcoe Muskoka medical officer of health Dr. Charles Gardner said he encourages people to get vaccinated to protect those under the eligible age. He said he is concerned by the region’s case count, which is now rising more rapidly than the province as a whole. Different from past waves, the Delta variant is causing double the number of children to contract the virus. Gardner said those who are not vaccinated are 10 times more likely to get COVID-19 and are much more likely to be hospitalized or end up in the ICU.
He said local data indicates the provincial restrictions have been an incentive to some to get vaccinated, as there is an uptick in immunizations.
“We do note there has been an increase in the population in those getting immunized who are receiving their first dose, compared with before the province announced the vaccine certificate program,” said Gardner.
As of Sept. 22, Ontarians will need to be fully vaccinated (two doses plus 14 days) and provide their proof of vaccination along with photo ID to access higher-risk indoor public settings where face coverings cannot always be worn including dine-in restaurants and bars (not including patios), meeting and event spaces, gyms, sporting events, gaming establishments and entertainment venues.
The certificate will not be required to access essential health care, grocery stores, and pharmacies.
Indoor masking policies will continue to remain in place as per public health regulations.
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 work with public health units to use the existing COVaxON system to safely and securely confirm the vaccination status of students.
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 Sept. 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.
Ontario will also introduce an enhanced digital vaccine receipt that features a QR code, as of Oct. 22. The digital vaccine receipt can be kept on a phone. 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.
Libraries to print certificates free of charge
Beginning on Sept. 8 all branches of the Clearview Public Library will be printing and laminating vaccine receipts free of charge for anyone who needs one.
Library CAO Jennifer La Chapelle believes it’s the right thing to do, especially for those who may not have access to a computer, printer, or reliable internet at home, “In an effort to assist members of the public who do not have access to computers and/or printers the Clearview Public Library will provide free printing of vaccine receipts and QR codes (when available) on request.”
For more information about the Clearview Public Library and hours of operation for each branch please visit www.clearview.library.on.ca.