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Paul Peticoff checks proof of vaccination at Diana’s Oyster Bar and Grill in Toronto, on Oct 5, 2021. Starting Jan. 4, 2022, only vaccine receipts with QR codes will be accepted at businesses where vaccine passports are required.Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail

Starting Jan. 4, Ontarians will need to have enhanced COVID-19 vaccine certificates with a scannable QR code if they want to eat inside restaurants, go to movie theatres, gyms, concert venues, and other non-essential businesses that require proof of vaccination.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford issued several new measures and capacity limits on Monday to curb the rapid spread of the Omicron variant in the province, affecting restaurants, fitness facilities and other venues that require patrons to show their QR code.

As of Jan. 5 at 12:01 a.m., Ontario will close restaurants and pubs to indoor dining, although outdoor service and takeout will be permitted with restrictions. Gyms and other indoor gathering areas will also be shuttered. Malls and personal care businesses will be able to operate at 50 per cent capacity. These measures will be in place for at least 21 days.

Currently, vaccine passports are only required for those aged 12 and older.

The old versions of vaccine certificates without a scannable QR code will no longer be accepted. Those who have a medical exemption will also need a verified certificate with a QR code, as doctor’s notes will no longer be accepted as of Jan. 10.

Ontario’s rules for proof of COVID-19 vaccination will change in January, 2022. Here’s what’s new

When are you considered fully vaccinated in Ontario?

You are considered fully vaccinated if you have received:

  • the full series of a Health Canada-approved vaccine or a combination of such vaccines. That means two doses of Pfizer, Moderna or AstraZeneca, AstraZeneca in combination with an mRNA shot, or one dose of the Janssen (Johnson and Johnson) vaccine
  • one or two doses of a vaccine not approved by Health Canada followed by a dose of Pfizer or Moderna
  • three doses of a vaccine not authorized by Health Canada
  • the final dose of a COVID-19 vaccine at least 14 days before providing the proof of being fully vaccinated

In the province, those who are 18 and older are currently eligible for third doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, or booster shots. However, booster shots are not required to be considered fully vaccinated.

How do I download my passport?

You need to log in to the provincial portal to download or print an electronic COVID-19 QR code.

To download your proof of vaccination, you must have a green photo health (OHIP) card, as you will be entering the card information to access your vaccination records.

If you have the old red and white health card or you do not have a computer or printer, you can call the Provincial Vaccine Contact Centre at 1-833-943-3900 and they will mail you a copy of your QR code.

If you don’t have a health card, contact your local public health unit to get a COVID ID. The Ontario website has a tool to help you find the contact information for your public health unit.

In many cities, including Toronto, people can print their vaccine receipts for free at their local library.

And don’t forget: you will need to continue to show a piece of ID with your name and date of birth along with your proof of vaccination.

How do I add my QR code into my phone’s digital wallet?

To import your vaccination receipt to Apple Wallet or Google Play, digital expert Marc Saltzman says go to Grassroots: Vaccination Receipt to Mobile Wallets and download the official receipt for your COVID-19 vaccination, or take a picture of your QR code, if you’ve already obtained it. To download your proof of vaccination, select your province in the drop-down menu to be redirected to your province’s portal.

Then, select or scan your vaccination receipt by pointing the website to file (by clicking ‘select file’), or scan the QR code with your camera by choosing, ‘start camera.’

Lastly, add your vaccine receipt with the QR code to Apple Wallet or Google Pay.

What if I’m from out of province or country and don’t have a QR code?

The Verify Ontario app, which businesses use to scan the QR codes, can read vaccine certificates issued by all Canadian provinces and territories, according to the Ontario Minister of Health. This includes those issued by the Canadian Armed Forces. Visitors from outside of Canada need to present their proof of vaccine receipts to a local public health unit for verification and instructions on how to obtain a QR version of their receipt.

Trudeau announces new federal standard for COVID-19 vaccine passports

Most public health units have online forms and portals set up where you can send your out-of-province vaccine certificates in order to get a QR code.

In Toronto, you will need to submit your vaccine certificate to Toronto Public Health via an online form. The agency estimates that requests will be processed within 20 business days due to the high volume of requests. In Ottawa, you will need to complete a COVID-19 Out of Province Dose Documentation form and upload your vaccine certificate. If it’s in a language other than French or English, you must also upload a translated version. In Windsor, you need to submit your vaccine certificate through the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit’s Out of Province Vaccine Registration portal. Similarly in London, you will need to send your documentation through the Middlesex-London Health Unit’s online form. The process may take up to 10 to 14 business days.

How will businesses check QR codes?

Businesses can download the Verify Ontario app, which can be used to scan the QR codes. If the patron is fully vaccinated, the business will see a checkmark and the person’s name and date of birth, which is to be checked against their ID.

The app is available in both Apple and Google app stores.

Who will be responsible for enforcing the use of QR codes?

Provincial offence officers are in charge of enforcing the Reopening Ontario Act, which includes certain businesses verifying vaccine certificates, proper PPE practices and contact tracing. According to the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development, officers will only consider issuing fines when they find repeat offences, intentional non-compliance or multiple infractions. Businesses found to be in non-compliance of the law can face a penalty of $1,000.

Where do you need to show proof of vaccination?

According to the Government of Ontario website, proof of vaccination will be required to enter indoor areas in:

  • 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, pools and waterparks
  • Sporting events
  • Casinos, bingo halls and gambling establishments
  • Concerts, music festivals, theatres and cinemas
  • Strip clubs, bathhouses and sex clubs
  • Racing venues (e.g., horse racing)
  • Commercial film and TV productions with studio audiences

Proof of vaccination will also be required for entry into any outdoor areas with a normal capacity of 20,000 or more people, such as concert venues, theatres and cinemas.

Ontario’s COVID-19 vaccine passport has loopholes, potential for fraud, critics say

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