Ontario’s new vaccine certificate: What you need to know

The province has released details about mandatory vaccination policies, exemptions, and digital certificates. Read the full briefing
By John Michael McGrath - Published on Sep 01, 2021

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The province announced on Wednesday that, starting September 22, Ontarians will be required to use a domestic vaccine passport to enter some higher-risk businesses and other settings. Initially, Ontarians will need to print out the receipts available on the province’s website. By October 22, the province hopes to have introduced a smartphone app that will allow for vaccination-status confirmation.

Ontarians will need to prove their vaccination status at bars and restaurants; nightclubs; meeting and event spaces (such as banquet halls and convention centres); gyms and fitness centres; sporting events; casinos, bingo halls, and gaming establishments; music halls and cinemas; and strip clubs, bathhouses, and sex clubs.

The requirement for a vaccine passport will not apply to churches or other places of worship or to most outdoor spaces — such as bar and restaurant patios — but will apply to outdoor nightclubs because of the dense crowds. It will also not apply to grocery stores or pharmacies, or to people under 12 (who cannot yet be vaccinated) and those with clear medical exemptions.

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The province will not require people to prove their vaccination status to vote in the upcoming federal election.

Negative COVID-19 tests will not exempt people from a vaccination requirement, except in certain specific cases, such as weddings and funerals in indoor event spaces before October 12. Events held after that date will require all guests to be vaccinated, with no exemption for testing.

While the premier and the minister of health had maintained for months that the current paper-based, home-printed receipts were sufficient for businesses looking to control access to their premises, government staff speaking on background confirmed to reporters that one reason for the change is that a QR-code-based app will be easier for businesses to use while also being more difficult to forge and offering greater privacy for individuals.

Read the full plan below.

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