Ontario government releases guidance to businesses and organizations on ‘vaccine passport’

Province confirms acceptable identification, exemptions, and more for proof of vaccination requirement effective September 22

Ontario health minister Christine Elliott provides an update at Queen's Park on September 14, 2021 on the province's new proof of vaccination requirement that goes into effect September 22. (CPAC screenshot by kawarthaNOW)
Ontario health minister Christine Elliott provides an update at Queen's Park on September 14, 2021 on the province's new proof of vaccination requirement that goes into effect September 22. (CPAC screenshot by kawarthaNOW)

The Ontario government has released guidance for businesses and organizations to support them in implementing the proof of identification and proof of vaccination requirements, commonly called a ‘vaccine passport’, that takes effect Wednesday, September 22nd.

Government officials provided details during a technical media briefing on Tuesday morning, followed by an official announcement by health minister Christine Elliott Tuesday afternoon.

“To ensure individuals, families, and business know what to expect, today we are sharing new materials and guidance to prepare them for these changes and to help address any questions,” Elliott said.

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As of September 22, Ontarians will need to be fully vaccinated (two doses plus 14 days) and provide proof of identification and proof of vaccination to access certain public settings and facilities. Ontarians can print or download their vaccination receipt from the provincial booking portal at covid-19.ontario.ca/covid-19-vaccine-booking-support.

The government says it 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.

There have been two changes since Ontario’s original announcement on September 1.

Although the government originally stated photo identification would be required to accompany proof of vaccination, it has expanded acceptable forms of identification to those that contain your name and date of birth.

Proof of identification can include a birth certificate, passport, permanent resident card, citizenship card, driver’s licence, a government-issued identification card (Ontario or other) including a health card, and an Indian Status Card or Indigenous Membership Card. The name and birth date on the identification must match the ones on the vaccine receipt.

The government has also expanded the list of businesses or organizations where proof of vaccination is required to include indoor areas of commercial film and television productions with studio audiences and indoor areas of waterparks.

The full list of indoor settings where proof of identification and proof of vaccination is required is as follows:

  • Indoor areas of restaurants, bars, and other food and drink establishments without dance facilities. Outdoor patios and delivery and takeout are excluded.
  • Indoor and outdoor areas of food or drink establishments with dance facilities, including nightclubs, restoclubs, and other similar establishments. Delivery and takeout are excluded.
  • Indoor areas of meeting and event spaces, including banquet halls and conference and convention centres (with limited exceptions)
  • Indoor areas of facilities used for sports and recreational fitness activities, including fitness/sporting/recreational facilities, pools, leagues, sporting events, waterparks, indoor areas of facilities where spectators watch events, and personal physical fitness training, with limited exemptions
  • Indoor areas of casinos, bingo halls, and other gaming establishments
  • Indoor areas of concert venues, theatres, and cinemas
  • Indoor areas of bathhouses, sex clubs and strip clubs
  • Indoor areas of horse racing tracks, car racing tracks and other similar venues
  • Indoor areas where commercial film and TV productions take place with studio audiences. Cast and crew members are excluded.

Proof of identification and proof of vaccination requirements do not apply to businesses or organizations not listed above, including those that provide access to necessary medical care, groceries, and basic medical supplies.

 

PDF: COVID-19 Vaccine Update – Technical Media Briefing – September 14, 2021
COVID-19 Vaccine Update - Technical Media Briefing - September 14, 2021

 

The government has also confirmed the exemptions to the proof of identification and proof of vaccination requirements, including:

  • Workers, contractors, repair workers, delivery workers, students, volunteers, inspectors or others who are entering the business or organization for work purposes and not as patrons.
  • A patron who is entering an indoor area solely to use a washroom, to access an outdoor area that can only be accessed through an indoor route, to make a retail purchase, while placing or picking up an order (including placing a bet or picking up winnings in the case of a horse racing track), while paying for an order, to purchase admission, or as may be necessary for the purposes of health and safety.
  • Children under 12 years of age.
  • Patrons under 18 years of age who are entering the indoor premises of a facility used for sports and recreational fitness activities solely for the purpose of actively participating in an organized sport, including training, practices, games and competitions. This includes sports leagues, organized pick-up sports, dance classes, martial arts, and swimming classes. It does not include youth who are spectators at sporting event, or youth who are using a gym or other area with exercise equipment or weights unless actively participating in an organized sport.
  • Patrons who are entering the indoor premises of a meeting or event space, including a conference centre or convention centre, solely for the purposes of attending a wedding service, rite or ceremony or a funeral service, rite or ceremony, but not an associated social gathering. Patrons attending an associated social gathering between September 22 to October 13 will have to provide the results of an antigen test administered within the previous 48 hours establishing that the person is negative for COVID-19.
  • Patrons who provide a written document, completed and supplied by a physician, registered nurse, or nurse practitioner, stating the person is exempt for a medical reason from being fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and the effective time period for the medical reason. Patrons with a medical exemption are required to present identification as well as the medical exemption document.
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Patrons are required to ensure that any information they provide to the business or organization to demonstrate proof of identification and proof of vaccination (or proof of qualifying for an exemption) is complete and accurate.

Businesses or organizations are responsible for ensuring they meet the requirements regarding proof of identification and proof of vaccination, including matching the name and the date of
birth of the patron listed on the vaccination receipt against the name and date of birth on a piece of identification and verifying the validity of the receipt (either an Ontario receipt issued at the time of vaccination or any format of receipt downloaded from Ontario.ca that shows the holder is fully vaccinated against COVID-19) or a receipt signed by an Indigenous Health Provider or a receipt from another jurisdiction that shows the holder is fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

Businesses or organizations are also responsible for verifying the receipt shows that the holder is fully vaccinated and verifying the date of administration of the final shot in the series is at least 14 days prior to the date the patron is seeking access to the business or organization.

Proof of identification and proof of vaccination requirements will be enforced by provincial offences officers, which can include by-law, police, public health inspectors, and regulatory officers from several ministries and agencies. Provincial offences officers may take a measured approach to enforcing orders, starting with education and warnings.

Failing to comply with proof of identification and proof of vaccination requirements can result in charges under the Reopening Ontario Act, with set fines of $750 for individuals and $1,000 for corporations. Maximum penalties based on a prosecution under the Reopening Ontario Act are up to $100,000 and up to a year in jail for an individual, up to $500,000 and up to a year in jail for an individual who is a director or officer of a corporation, and up to $10 million for a corporation.

In situations where a business or organization faces harassment or threats of acts of violence, the government says they should contact law enforcement.

For more information, visit the Ontario government website to download Proof of Vaccination Guidance for Businesses and Organizations under the Reopening Ontario Act and Questions and Answers for businesses related to the guidance.