Proof of vaccination will be needed at movie theatres, gyms, restaurants in Ontario: sources

TORONTO — Proof of vaccination will be required to access non-essential businesses in Ontario, including gyms, indoor restaurants, movie theatres, concerts and organized large gatherings, under Ontario’s new vaccine certification program starting Sept. 22, sources confirm to CTV News Toronto.

Government sources said on Wednesday morning that Ontario residents would not need the certificate for retail shopping or outdoor patios.

The vaccine certificate would be used alongside a government-issued ID. The province is working on an app that will combine ID and the vaccine certification, which users can show if asked for proof.

The information will be embed into a personalized QR code in October, the sources confirmed, which would allow vaccinated individuals to use their smartphones to display their vaccine status without sharing any personal health information.

Sources say the government is also developing an app for businesses to verify the contents of the QR code, which will also be ready in October. It is not yet clear how this will work for people who do not have access to a cellphone.

Advocates have cautioned against a headlong rush into implementing a vaccine passport using only smartphone apps — warning it could leave the elderly, the poor or the homeless out in the cold.

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Ontario Premier Doug Ford will be making an announcement at 1 p.m., alongside Health Minister Christine Elliott and the Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Kieran Moore.

For several days now, officials have met multiple times to discuss the details around Ontario’s vaccine certification system. Plans for vaccine passports have already been rolled out in multiple other Canadian provinces, including British Columbia, Quebec, and Manitoba.

Dr. Isaac Bogoch, an infectious diseases specialist, told CP24 on Wednesday that Ontario would likely see an increase in vaccinations following the announcement. Currently, about 83 per cent of residents 12 and older in Ontario have at least one dose of the vaccine, and about 76 per cent are fully vaccinated.

“We will likely see a pretty reasonable jump in people booking their vaccines. We saw that in France, we saw that in Quebec, we saw that in B.C. I think we will probably see the same thing in Ontario,” he said.

“People who might have been sitting on the fence are going to say, ‘Wow, if I want to participate in non-essential activities, go to non-essential businesses, like restaurants, like bars, like concerts or whatever, I need a vaccine, I’m going to go get one.'”

He added that while vaccine certificates and passports are important, they are not the overall “solution to the pandemic.”

“This helps create a safer indoor space,” he said. “This is not the only thing that needs to be done. This is one major policy decision that can be taken to keep places open.” 

— With files from CTV News Toronto’s Colin D’Mello

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