City of Toronto supporting vaccination certificates with educational approach

On September 14, the Ontario government released regulations and guidance for businesses and organizations in implementing proof of vaccination requirements for their customers, effective September 22. Businesses and organizations will be responsible for ensuring they meet the provincial requirements for proof of vaccination against COVID-19.

Under the provincial requirements, in order to access certain indoor public settings and facilities, Ontarians aged 12 and older will need to provide proof that they are fully vaccinated, along with valid ID. Ontarians can print or download their vaccination receipt from the provincial booking portal Opens in new window. Ontario is developing an enhanced electronic vaccine certificate with a unique QR code and a verification app for businesses, which will be available by October 22.

The City of Toronto will be working with businesses to educate them on the Province of Ontario’s proof of vaccine requirements under the Reopening Ontario Act (ROA). Staff from Toronto Public Health and Municipal Licensing and Standards will continue to conduct inspections to ensure businesses are following the requirements under the ROA, including the new vaccination requirements, and will work to respond to complaints. The public is reminded that instances of violence should be referred to the Toronto Police Service.

The City urges the public to be respectful of business operators who are required to follow the provincial regulations. Concerns regarding businesses or organizations not following the regulations should be directed to 311 for investigation. 911 should only be called when there is immediate threat, such as trespass, a physical assault, or a crime in progress.

The provincial proof of vaccination requirements are mainly focused on indoor, non-essential public settings where face coverings cannot always be worn. The proof of vaccination requirements apply to any customer entering the indoor areas of the following premises:
• Restaurants, bars and other food or drink establishments, including those where dance facilities are provided such as nightclubs, and other similar establishments (excluding delivery and takeout);
• 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, including facilities where spectators watch events;
• Casinos, bingo halls and gaming establishments;
• Concert venues, theatres and cinemas;
• Strip clubs, bathhouses and sex clubs;
• Racing venues (e.g., horse racing);
• Places where commercial film and television production takes place and there is a studio audience (the audience members are considered patrons).

Proof of vaccination is also required in the outdoor areas of:
• Food or drink establishments where dance facilities are provided, including nightclubs, and other similar establishments, but not with respect to takeout and delivery service

More detailed information respecting these requirements can be found on the Provincial website and a full list of businesses and organizations that are required under the ROA to ask for vaccination status can be found at: Rules for Areas at Step 3 Opens in new window

Impact on City Recreation Facilities: The Provincial proof of vaccination and valid identification requirements will be imposed starting September 22 for many program participants, visitors and spectators entering indoor areas of City fitness centres and weight rooms, arenas, pools, gymnasiums, sport and fitness programs, meeting and event spaces and theatres. This includes:
• Indoor areas of fitness centres, weight rooms and fitness classes for participants 12 years and older
• Organized sports, dance, martial arts and swimming programs for participants 18 years and older
• Spectators 12 years and older and their caregivers, and those 18 years and older accessing an indoor area used for sports and recreation fitness activities

Public health measures such as health screening, contract tracing, masking, physical distancing and capacity restrictions shall continue to apply.

Some exceptions include:
• Children under 12 years old
• Patrons under 18 years actively participating (i.e. not spectators) in organized sport
• Medical exceptions with a written document from a medical doctor or registered nurse
• Wedding ceremony or funeral service held at a meeting or event space
• Patrons entering indoor areas for certain purposes such as solely for washroom use, making a retail purchase or picking up/paying for an order,

Proof of vaccination is not required in premises providing essential services such as retail stores, grocery stores or where people receive medical care or medical supplies.

Individuals who cannot receive the vaccine due to medical exemptions will be permitted entry with a doctor’s or registered (extended class) nurses’ note until recognized medical exemptions can be integrated as part of an Ontario digital vaccine certificate. Children who are 11 years of age and younger and unable to be vaccinated at this time will also be exempted from these requirements.

A business or an organization is not permitted retain any vaccination information provided by a customer or patron.

Failure by a business operator or patron to comply with these vaccination requirements may result in charges under the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act, 2020. Where a charge is laid under Part I of the Provincial Offenses Act, the set fine amounts are $750 for individuals and $1,000 for corporations, plus a victim surcharge. A charge laid under Part III of the Provincial Offences Act carries the following maximum fines:
(a) in the case of an individual, to a fine of not more than $100,000 and for a term of imprisonment of not more than one year;
(b) in the case of an individual who is a director or officer of a corporation, to a fine of not more than $500,000 and for a term of imprisonment of not more than one year; and
(c) in the case of a corporation, to a fine of not more than $10,000,000.

Data shows that unvaccinated individuals are seven times more likely to become infected with COVID-19. As COVID-19 continues to circulate in Toronto, vaccination is a key public health measure to reduce community spread. Receiving two doses of the vaccine provides residents with optimal protection against the Delta variant, severe illness and outcomes.

There continues to be an increase in vaccinations since the Province of Ontario announced a proof of vaccination system and return to work policies have been implemented. Between August 31 and September 9, there was a 25 per cent increase in first doses of vaccines administered in Toronto.

Government of Ontario proof of vaccination links:
Proof of Vaccination Regulations  Opens in new window

Proof of Vaccination Guidance for Businesses Opens in new window

“Getting fully vaccinated is our best defense against this virus. Vaccination is absolutely essential to making it harder for COVID-19 and its variants to spread, and to protect ourselves, our loved ones and everyone around us. I fully support the Government of Ontario’s decision to require proof of vaccination across our province. This is another step to protect our communities and help keep us moving forward out of this pandemic.”
– Dr. Eileen de Villa, Medical Officer of Health

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