Ontario has released more details on how the new digital COVID-19 vaccine passport will work.
Premier Doug Ford revealed more information on the new system today. He was joined by Minister of Health Christine Elliott, Associate Minister of Digital Government Kaleed Rasheed, Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Kieran Moore.
For people who are 12 years and older, since Sept. 22 access to certain high-risk indoor public spaces has been limited to those fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or who have a valid medical exemption. A person is considered fully vaccinated 14 days after their second dose.
Ford said the objective of the system is to avoid further lockdowns.
“The enhanced vaccine certificates and Verify Ontario app will give our businesses further comfort in their ability to operate safely as we take further steps to protect people’s privacy. These certificates remain a key element of our plan to protect the gains we have made while avoiding future lockdowns," said Ford in a statement.
So far, people have provided the receipt from their second dose of the vaccine and ID as proof of vaccination.
Oct. 22, the province is introducing the digital passport system with scannable a QR code and a free, made-in-Ontario app for businesses and organizations to use.
For the launch, the QR code will work for people who are fully vaccinated. The province is working on a system to allow for a QR code for medical exemptions as well.
The new QR code vaccine certificate only has essential information and does not include a person's health card number. It can be printed or stored on your phone and businesses must accept electronic and paper versions. People can also continue using their current vaccine receipt. ID showing your name and date of birth will be required for the digital and paper certificates.
To download the new receipt, access to it starts today. The rollout is being done over three days based on when people were born. The cohorts are:
- Oct. 15 - People born between January and April
- Oct. 16 - People born between May and August
- Oct. 17 - People born between September and December
It will be available to all people on Oct. 18 at 6 a.m. It can be downloaded here.
To have the enhanced vaccine certificate emailed or mailed to you, call the Provincial Vaccine Contact Centre at 1-833-943-3900 between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m.
Beginning today, people getting the vaccine will receive the enhanced certificate. If you are not fully vaccinated, when the QR code is scanned it will not be approved.
The province says it is also working with Apple and Android for people to add the vaccine certificate to mobile wallets.
The Verify Ontario app businesses can use also reads other government-issued QR codes from other areas such as Quebec, British Columbia and Yukon. To support international travel, the certificate people can download has the Government of Canada logo on it.
Areas that proof of vaccination is needed include:
- Indoor areas of restaurants or bars. Outdoor patios, delivery and takeout are exempt.
- Indoor areas of facilities for sports and recreational facilities, including personal training
- Indoor areas of concert venues, theatres and cinemas
- Indoor meeting and event spaces
- Indoor areas of horse racing and car racing tracks
- Indoor areas of commercial film and TV productions with studio audiences
- Indoor areas of waterparks
- Indoor spectator areas for sporting events
- Indoor areas of casinos, bingo halls and gaming establishments
- Indoor and outdoor areas of nightclubs
- Indoor areas of bathhouses, strip clubs and sex clubs
Public health measures such as masking still apply to these locations.
Last week, capacity limits were lifted for some of the spaces requiring a vaccine passport. Next week, it's expected the province will announce its plan to lift capacity limits in other settings such as restaurants and gyms.
In Ontario, 87.3 per cent of people aged 12 and over have at least one dose of the vaccine and 82.8 per cent of people have two doses.
“Getting vaccinated is the single most important thing Ontarians can do to protect themselves and their communities,” said Elliott in a news release. “We are making it simpler, faster and more convenient for Ontarians to show their proof of vaccination, allowing them to safely access businesses and other settings across the province. If you haven’t yet received your vaccine, please do so today.”
Since the vaccine passport was announced in September, more than four million people have downloaded a vaccine receipt through the government portal.