Here are the exemptions for Ontario’s COVID-19 vaccine passport system

You don't need proof of vaccination to go to a washroom or order takeout


Ontario has announced more specific details of the vaccine certificate program, which takes effect on September 22.

On Tuesday, health minister Christine Elliott outlined exemptions to the program as well as guidance for businesses who find themselves dealing with non-compliant customers.

As previously announced, residents who are vaccinated must download their vaccine receipts to their phones or print them out in order to present them with government-issued ID when entering restaurants, bars, nightclubs, casinos, bingo halls, concert venues, strip clubs, cinemas, gyms and other “non-essential” establishments.

On October 22, the province plans to launch an “enhanced” vaccine certificate with a QR code as well as QR code verification app for businesses.

However, there are exemptions. Patrons do not have to produce a certificate to place or pickup a takeout order, go to an outdoor area, use the washroom, make a retail purchase or place a bet at a horse-racing track.

The rules also don’t apply to workers in any of these establishments, or to children under age 12 who are not yet eligible for vaccinations and those who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons.

People under 18 will also be allowed to enter a sports and recreational facility “solely for the purpose of actively participating in an organized sport,” the government said.

Elliott said bylaw enforcement officers will be monitoring businesses. On the flip side, if business owners or workers feel threatened by patrons who do not want to follow the rules, they should call the police, the health minister said.

“If there are any businesses that are concerned when they refuse entry to a restaurant or a gym,” Elliott told reporters today, “if at any point they feel threatened, we want them to call 911 as soon as possible to make sure police officers can be there to assist.”

Elliott added that she doesn’t anticipate demand for police to assist business owners will be “huge 911 calls.”

“People understand what the rules are and we’re simply expecting people will follow them,” she said.

Following the press conference, CTV News reporter Colin D’Mello tweeted the minister’s comments. In response, the Toronto Police tweeted that people should only call 911 in the event of an emergency and non-emergency issues should be reported to 311.

The minister conceded that there may be instances where people will be able to create fake documents based on the government’s vaccine receipts prior to the documents being imprinted into QR codes on October 22.

Vaccine passports are not required for essential businesses and services, including grocery stores, pharmacies and banks.

Below are the list of vaccine passport exemptions, per the province’s website.

Vaccine passport exemptions in Ontario

The proof of identification and proof of vaccination against COVID-19 requirements under O. Reg. 364/20 do not apply to:

a) Workers, contractors, repair workers, delivery workers, students, volunteers, inspectors or others who are entering the business or organization for work purposes and not as patron.

b) A patron who is entering an indoor area solely for the following purposes:

  • to use a washroom; to access an outdoor area that can only be accessed through an indoor route;
  • to make a retail purchase;
  • while placing or picking up an order, including placing a bet or picking up winnings in the case of a horse racing track;
  • while paying for an order;
  • to purchase admission; or
  • as may be necessary for the purposes of health and safety

All other public health measures (e.g., masking and physical distancing) continue to apply to patrons.

c) Children under 12 years of age.

  • Businesses or organizations specified in the regulation must require patrons who are 12 years of age or older and who do not qualify for an exemption to provide proof of identification and proof of being fully vaccinated against COVID-19 prior to entering an area specified in section 2.1 of Schedule 1 of O. Reg. 364/20. Businesses or organizations should establish processes to ensure compliance with this requirement, including processes to ensurecompliance with this requirement when a business or organization is uncertain whether a patron is under 12 years of age.

d) Patrons under 18 years of age who are entering the indoor premises of a facility used for sports and recreational fitness activities s olely for the purpose of actively participating in an organized sport, in accordance with the guidance below and in Appendix A:

The exemption relating to youth under 18 years of age actively participating in indoor organized sport applies to training, practices, games and competitions.

Examples of an organized sport for which the exemption applies include:

  • sports leagues
  • organized pick-up sports
  • dance classes
  • martial arts
  • swimming classes

The exemption does not apply to youth who are spectators at sporting events. Nor does the exemption apply to youth who are using a gym or other area with exercise equipment or weights unless actively participating in an organized sport.

e) Proof of being fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and proof of identification(or proof of being entitled to another exemption) is required for patrons 18 years and older, including parents or guardians of youth actively participating in an organized sport. Businesses or organizations should establish processes to ensure compliance with this requirement, including processes to ensure compliance with this requirement when a business or organization is uncertain whether a patron is under 18 years of age. Proof of identification and proof of being fully vaccinated is not required for workers or volunteers, including coaches and officials.

f) Patrons who are entering the indoor premises of a meeting or event space that is located in a place of worship or in a funeral establishment, cemetery, crematorium or similar establishment that provides funeral, cemetery or cremation services and that is operated by a person licensed under the Funeral, Burial and Cremation Services Act, 2002, for the purposes of attending a social gathering associated with a funeral service, rite or ceremony (See Appendix B).

g) Patrons who are entering the indoor premises of a meeting or event space other than a place described in (f) above, including a conference centre or convention centre, for the purposes of attending a social gathering associated with a wedding service, rite or ceremony or a social gathering associated with a funeral service, rite or ceremony, on or after September 22, 2021, but before October 13, 2021, as long as the patron produces the results of an antigen test administered within the previous 48 hours establishing that the person is negative for COVID-19 to the person responsible for the establishment (See Appendix B)

h) Patrons who provide a written document, completed and supplied by a physician (designated as “MD”) or by a registered nurse in the extended class (designated as “Registered Nurse (Extended Class)”, “RN(EC)”, “Nurse Practitioner” or “NP”) stating that the individual is exempt for a medical reason from being fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and the effective time-period for the medical reason.

Patrons with a medical exemption are required to present identification and a written document stating the individual is exempt for a medical reason to the business or organization.

To review proof of a medical reason for not being vaccinated against COVID-19, the business or organization must ensure: The name of the person in the written documentation matches the identification provided and the physician’s or registered nurse in the extended class’s information is complete by including:

  • Name and contact information of the physician or registered nurse in the extended class;
  • Logo or letterhead identifying the physician or registered nurse in the extended class;
  • Statement that there is a medical reason for the individual’s exemptionfrom being fully vaccinated against COVID-19; and
  • Any effective time-period for the medical reason which includes the date the patron is seeking access to the business or organization.

Read more via the province’s website.

This story was updated on September 15 at 1:45 pm.

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