On Sept. 14, 2021, Health Minister Christine Elliott and Chief Medical Officer of Health Kieran Moore unveiled the new regulations for vaccine passports that come into effect next week in Ontario. Customers of indoor restaurants, gyms, theatres and other businesses that heath officials consider higher risk for COVID-19 transmission to show proof of vaccination before entering. This is to decrease COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations.
Critics said the system includes too many loopholes and could be easy to defraud.
There are very few legitimate reasons why people shouldn’t be vaccinated for COVID-19, and the criteria for this exemption is very limited. The new system will require people that qualify for this exemption with a note from a doctor or a nurse practitioner. It will not at first provide any way for businesses to verify that the exemption is legitimate. This can lead to fraud.
Doctors or nurses who abuse the process could face professional discipline, he said, and fraudsters who try to pass off fake notes as real could face fines.
The government’s fully digital vaccine certificate system will not be available until a month after the launch of the new rules on Sept. 22. Until then, businesses will have to scrutinize the paper vaccine receipts, as well as those provided by other countries. This may be a difficult challenge as some people may have received vaccines that have not been approved by Health Canada.
To prepare for the new rules, Police and bylaw officers will start with a “measured approach” on enforcement. Individuals will face up to $750 in fines, or $1,000 for corporations if they breaking the rules.
Ontario Opposition NDP Leader Andrea Horwath stated the new regulations were confusing and open to fraud. Ms. Elliott admitted people could try to use fake doctor notes. But also noted that the problem will diminish once legitimate medical exemptions are included in the digital vaccine certificates. However, the government says no one will be forced to use the digital system.
Regarding unvaccinated citizens, patio diners are allowed and they can enter inside restaurants to use washrooms or to pay. These customers will be wearing masks and spending very few minutes inside, which is low risk.
The Ontario Chamber of Commerce guided businesses but there are still several unanswered questions. Another loophole is that the new rules only apply to customers, not staff members. This could result in people who have their vaccine passports could be served by an unvaccinated waiter. Originally sourced by The Global and Mail.