Here’s what Windsor-Essex residents need to know about Ontario’s vaccine passport

Windsor-Essex residents will have to show proof of vaccination against COVID-19 to access non-essential businesses, including gyms, indoor restaurants, movie theatres, concerts and organized large gatherings, under Ontario’s new vaccine certification program.

As of Sept. 22, 2021, Ontarians will need to be fully vaccinated (two doses plus 14 days) and provide their proof of vaccination along with photo ID to access certain public settings and facilities.

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

In Windsor-Essex, 72.3 per cent of residents 12+ are fully vaccinated.

Vaccination rates have been relatively flat in Windsor-Essex over the past few weeks, but Windsor Regional Hospital CEO David Musyj says other provinces which implemented vaccine certification policies saw an immediate jump in people getting their jab.

“The goal is we don’t want to lock things down,” says Musyj. “So how can we keep businesses running, how can we keep the economy running while at the same time keeping a lid on COVID? Vaccine passports are a way to do that.”

The province says this approach focuses on higher-risk indoor public settings where face coverings cannot always be worn and includes:

  • Restaurants and bars (excluding outdoor patios, as well as delivery and takeout);
  • Nightclubs (including outdoor areas of the establishment);
  • Meeting and event spaces, such as banquet halls and conference/convention centres;
  • Facilities used for sports and fitness activities and personal fitness training, such as gyms, fitness and recreational facilities with the exception of youth recreational sport;
  • Sporting events;
  • Casinos, bingo halls and gaming establishments;
  • Concerts, music festivals, theatres and cinemas;
  • Strip clubs, bathhouses and sex clubs;
  • Racing venues (e.g., horse racing).

These mandatory requirements would not apply to outdoor settings where the risk of transmission is lower, including patios, with the exception of outdoor nightclub spaces given the risk associated with the setting.

WHAT ARE THE EXCEPTIONS?

In addition, these requirements will not apply to settings where people receive medical care, food from grocery stores, medical supplies and the like. Aligned with public health measures currently in place, indoor masking policies will continue to remain in place.

Individuals who cannot receive the vaccine due to medical exemptions will be permitted entry with a doctor’s note until recognized medical exemptions can be integrated as part of a digital vaccine certificate. Children who are 11 years of age and younger and unable to be vaccinated will also be exempted from these requirements.

For the period between Sept. 22 and Oct. 12, 2021, it is intended that people attending wedding or funeral receptions at meeting or event spaces will be able to provide a negative rapid antigen COVID-19 test from no more than 48 hours before the event as an alternative to proof of vaccination. These rapid antigen tests would have to be privately purchased.