Ministry of Health Offers Guidance for Ontario’s Proof of Vaccination Requirements
On September 14, 2021, Ontario’s Ministry of Health released guidance regarding Ontario’s recently implemented proof of vaccination requirements (the “Guidance”). The Guidance delineates between the roles and responsibilities of patrons, businesses and organizations, and includes recommendations for how to operationalize the requirements.
- Proof of Vaccination Required in Ontario
As of September 22, 2021, specified businesses and organizations have been required to verify proof of vaccination along with identification from patrons upon entry, pursuant to O. Reg. 364/20: Rules for Areas at Step 3 and at the Roadmap Exit Step (“O. Reg. 364/20”) under the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act, 2020 (“ROA”). Subject to limited exceptions, the specified businesses and organizations include the following indoor spaces:
- Restaurants and bars
- Event spaces
- Sports, recreational, and fitness facilities
- Casinos and gaming establishments
- Strip clubs and sex clubs
- Concert and performance venues
- Racing venues
- Film and TV productions with live studio audiences
- Indoor or outdoor areas of food or drink establishments with dancing, such as nightclubs.
- Responsibilities of Businesses and Organizations
(A) How do Businesses and Organizations Confirm Proof of Vaccination?
The Guidance lists the following steps for confirming proof of vaccination:
- Match the name and date of birth on the vaccine receipt with identification.
- Verify the receipt is an Ontario receipt issued at the time of vaccination, or another format downloaded from Ontario’s website, or another jurisdiction’s receipt.
- Verify the receipt confirms full vaccination status.
- Verify that 14 days elapsed since the final dose.
(B) What Form of Proof of Vaccination is Acceptable?
The Government of Ontario is in the process of developing a QR code verification app that is expected to be available by October 22, 2021. However, from September 22, 2021 to October 22, 2021, patrons (whether Ontario residents or visitors), must use the following as their proof of vaccination:
- the receipt provided at the time of vaccination;
- a receipt downloaded through the COVID-19 vaccination provincial portal; or
- providing proof of vaccination documentation from their jurisdiction.
The receipt must include the name of the individual, the date of vaccination and the name of the vaccine. Importantly, an individual is considered fully vaccinated if they have received:
- the full series of a COVID-19 vaccine authorized by Health Canada, or any combination of such vaccines; or
- one or two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine not authorized by Health Canada, followed by one dose of a COVID-19 mRNA vaccine authorized by Health Canada; or
- three doses of a COVID-19 vaccine not authorized by Health Canada; and
- they received their final dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at least 14 days before providing the proof of being fully vaccinated.
(C) What should be retained by the Business or Organization?
Businesses shall not retain any information provided by patrons in this process.
(D) What can be used as identification?
The Guidance notes that identification is to be used to validate name and date of birth and as such, expressly indicates that photo identification is not required.
Proof of identity can be established using documentation issued by an institution or public body, provided it includes the name of the holder and date of birth. Examples of identification documents that may be used to confirm the identity of the holder of the vaccine receipt include:
- Birth certificate
- Citizenship card
- Driver’s licence
- Government (Ontario or other) issued identification card, including health card
- Indian Status Card /Indigenous Membership Card
- Permanent Resident card
For Ontario residents, expired Ontario issued identification, such as drivers’ licenses, and expired Canadian issued documents, such as passports, may be provided as identification. Visitors from within Canada may provide expired passports, but not expired provincial documents. All visitors from abroad may not provide expired documents.
(E) Are There Any Exemptions from the Requirement to Provide Proof of Vaccination?
Limited exemptions apply, such as:
- Workers, contractors, repair workers, delivery works, students or volunteers entering a business for work purposes
- People entering an indoor area solely for: using the washroom, accessing an outdoor area only accessible through an indoor route, making a retail purchase, placing an order or bet, paying for an order, to purchase admission, or as may be necessary for the purposes of health and safety
- Children under the age of 12
- Patrons who provide a medical exemption that has been completed by a physician or registered nurse stating the individual is medically exempt and the effective time period for the medical reason. To review proof of medial exemption, businesses must verify the identity and ensure the necessary information has been provided by the physician or registered nurse (name, contact, logo, medical reason, and effective time period)
- Other specific exemptions regarding, for example, youth sports, weddings and funeral services can be found here.
- Responsibilities of Patrons
Patrons are solely responsible for ensuring they are providing accurate vaccination proof (or exemption) and identification information and documentation. The Guidance is clear that in the event of harassment or threats of violence while requesting proof of vaccination, law enforcement should be contacted.