A passport system for the COVID-19 vaccine goes into effect Wednesday in Ontario, requiring people to show proof of vaccination to enter thousands of non-essential sites across the province.
Restaurants, bars, sports venues, gyms, theaters, cinemas and casinos are some of the places where staff must ask customers to prove that they have received two doses of an approved vaccine at least two weeks previously, as well as one. identity document corresponding to their vaccination document.
Here’s what you need to know about how the Ontario Vaccine Passport System works:
Proof of vaccination
Ontarians can download their proof of vaccination from this provincial government website. You need your OHIP card to connect to the site. Once you have downloaded the certificate showing that you have received two doses of the vaccine, you can either print a hard copy or store the PDF on your phone.
Vaccination receipts from jurisdictions outside of Ontario are accepted, provided the vaccine doses received meet the province’s definition of fully immunized. If any of the doses received were not among the four vaccines approved by Health Canada (Pfizer-BioNtech, Moderna, AstraZeneca / COVISHIELD or Janssen / Johnson & Johnson), Ontario requires two doses to be considered fully immunized, or follow-up with a dose of Pfizer or Moderna mRNA vaccines.
In addition to the paper or digital copy of your vaccination certificate, you must present a government-issued ID with your name and date of birth, matching what is on the proof of vaccination. It does not have to be photo ID.
You can use your OHIP card as a piece of identification, but site staff do not have the right to demand to see your health card as part of your proof of vaccination.
You must show your ID and proof of being fully vaccinated against COVID-19 to enter the following locations:
- The interior areas of restaurants and bars, as well as the interior and exterior areas of nightclubs.
- Indoor areas of concert halls, theaters, cinemas, casinos, bingo halls and other gaming establishments.
- Indoor areas of sports and recreational facilities, such as gymnasiums, fitness centers, swimming pools, water parks and indoor spectator areas of sports venues.
- Indoor areas of meeting and event spaces, such as banquet halls, conference and convention centers.
- Areas covered with horse races or motor racing tracks.
- Indoor areas of strip clubs, public baths and sex clubs.
Exceptions and exemptions
Children under the age of 12 are not subject to the Ontario vaccination passport system as they are not currently eligible for vaccination.
To be exempt from Ontario’s COVID-19 vaccination requirements, anyone aged 12 and over must provide a written document from a physician or nurse practitioner on official letterhead stating that there is has a medical reason for the exemption.
Public health doctors have said medical exemptions are rare and are mostly limited to a life-threatening allergy to a vaccine ingredient or an adverse reaction to a first dose.
There are also a few specific exceptions to the vaccination requirement for the sites listed above:
- People entering the interior space of a restaurant or bar only to buy take-out, pay or use the restroom.
- Children under the age of 18 entering a sports or recreational facility to actively participate in organized sport, such as a league or classes, including dancing, martial arts or swimming.
- Persons entering a meeting or event hall only to attend a wedding ceremony or funeral service. The exception does not apply to a reception or social gathering associated with the wedding or funeral. However, until October 13, an unvaccinated person can attend such a social gathering by producing a negative COVID-19 test administered within the previous 48 hours.
Digital vaccination passport: October 22
Provincial officials say Ontario will switch to a digital proof of vaccination system within a month. People who have been vaccinated will be able to download a QR code to their phone, which can be read by a free smartphone app that will be available before the start date of October 22.