Simcoe Muskoka residents must now show proof of vaccination at some indoor businesses
The Ontario vaccine certificate program is officially in effect across Simcoe Muskoka, requiring several businesses to check for proof of vaccination before allowing patrons in, but it's a measure Premier Doug Ford ensured was "temporary."
Restaurants, bars, fitness centres, movie theatres and casinos are among the facilities considered high-risk that must turn away anyone without proof they've been immunized against COVID-19.
Several other services don't require proof, including salons, retail centres and any essential services, such as grocery stores and accessing medical care.
The province also said the requirements don't apply to outdoor settings, like patios, where transmission is low.
Still, Premier Doug Ford said on Wednesday that the vaccine certificate was a temporary measure and the "best defence" to avoid further lockdowns.
"We can't afford to shut down again or experience a sudden surge in cases like we're seeing in other provinces across the country," Ford said during a live conference.
The premier did not explain what would have to happen for the new measures to be lifted, only saying he would seek the advice of the province's medical officer of health.
HOW TO GET PROOF OF VACCINATION
Starting Sept. 22, residents can download a copy of their second dose receipt or print it off on the province's COVID-19 vaccination website. However, that site was down Wednesday for previously scheduled maintenance, which occurs weekly.
In one month, on Oct. 22, the province said it would implement a vaccine app with a QR code verification system so residents could easily show proof using their phones.
This week, several municipalities across the region announced most residents and visitors would need to show proof of vaccination to enter recreational centres.
The City of Barrie requires the following people to show proof of immunization at recreation and culture centres:
- Patrons 18 and older
- Youth spectators 12-17 (not participating)
- Participants using weight rooms or exercise equipment (all ages)
- Any youth 12-17 not actively participating in an organized sport
Active screening and contact tracing will still take place regardless of vaccination status.
The Simcoe Muskoka health unit said it would take a "graduated approach with emphasis on education" for those not complying with the new requirements.
Meanwhile, Barrie police said concerns regarding the vaccine certificate should be directed to the health unit unless there is a public safety concern or criminal activity.
Ford had previously stated bylaw officers would lead enforcement.
Anyone caught not complying with the vaccine policy could face fines starting at $750. The fines for businesses start at $1,000.