Effective September 22, proof of COVID-19 vaccination will be required for customers at restaurants, bars, and entertainment facilities across Ontario. 

On Thursday, September 2, Eastern Ontario Health Unit (EOHU) Medical Officer of Health Dr. Paul Roumeliotis explained the plan announced by the Ontario government on September 1.  

“We needed to have some kind of vaccine certification,” he said. 

According to Roumeliotis, approximately 84 per cent of residents of the EOHU’s territory (Prescott and Russell, Stormont, Dundas, and Glengarry, Cornwall, and the Canadian portion of Akwesasne), have received one vaccine dose, and approximately 77 per cent of residents had received two doses as of Thursday, September 3. Approximately 67 per cent of Ontario residents are fully vaccinated and about half of that group are children who cannot be vaccinated. 

Roumeliotis said a 90 per cent vaccination rate is required to ensure there is no chance of further closures and restrictions on businesses and services. He said policies are needed that will encourage further vaccination to reach the herd immunity goal. Roumeliotis said when fully vaccinated people are together in the same public place such as a restaurant, bar, or theatre, the potential for COVID-19 transmission among those people could be eliminated. He noted that economists, chambers of commerce, and other business organizations have advocated for the certification to be introduced in Ontario. 

Roumeliotis is hopeful the requirement will compel more people to get vaccinated. 

“I think we’re going to start seeing an uptake on that.” 

As of September 22, customers at non-essential businesses will have to show proof of vaccination on paper or pdf file on their mobile phone in order to receive service. Individuals will also have to show photo identification, because the current proof of vaccination forms can be easily falsified. The province is planning to issue a QR code-based proof of vaccination on paper or in digital form by October 22. 

Roumeliotis said negative COVID-19 test results are not valid proof to obtain service at non-essential businesses. However, negative tests will be accepted for weddings and funerals – but only until October 12. 

Roumeliotis is confident that herd immunity against COVID-19 will be reached, and emphasized vaccination is also intended to protect people who cannot be vaccinated due to age or other medical reasons. 

“We’ll be able to do it, we’ll get it done.” 

In Québec, the vaccination passport took effect on September 1. Québec residents were issued a QR code document which can be used on a mobile phone or paper immediately after they were vaccinated. Ontario residents visiting non-essential businesses in Québec must provide proof of vaccination and a photo identification to accompany it.  

Movie theatres are one of the places where customers are required to show proof when they enter. At Cinemas Laurentiens in Grenville, owner Danielle Lacasse said she had no difficulties with customers on Wednesday when the rule took effect. 

“They were ready with their papers,” Lacasse said. “I never had to ask anybody.”