Unvaccinated in Simcoe Muskoka: Here's what you need to know
The Ontario government announced a new COVID-19 vaccine certificate that will come into play on Sept. 22, limiting what businesses unvaccinated residents can access.
The move focuses on indoor public settings, such as bars and restaurants, where there can be close contact without face masks and large crowds.
Anyone who can't receive the vaccine because of valid medical reasons or children born after 2009 is exempt.
WHAT VENUES WILL REQUIRE A VACCINE CERTIFICATE
Only people with two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine are considered fully vaccinated and should obtain their vaccine receipt.
A negative COVID-19 test will not entitle an individual to enter businesses that require proof of immunization.
Residents who choose not to be immunized will not be able to access the following indoor public settings where face coverings can't always be worn:
- 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, fitness and recreational facilities except for youth recreational sport;
- Sporting events;
- Casinos, bingo halls and gaming establishments;
- Concerts, music festivals, theatres and cinemas;
- Strip clubs, bathhouses and sex clubs; and
- Racing venues (such as horse racing).
WHAT CAN UNVACCINATED RESIDENTS ACCESS
The province's vaccine certificate doesn't apply to outdoor settings where the risk of contracting COVID-19 is low.
Residents who haven't received a vaccine won't be denied access to essential services, such as grocery stores and health care.
Additionally, the province doesn't require residents to be vaccinated to access the following:
- Retail shopping;
- Salons and barbershops;
- Places of worship;
- Essential services (such as grocery stores, medical supplies, etc.);
- Outdoor patios and outdoor spaces (except for nightclubs).
The province decided to exempt settings like salons because data revealed transmission of COVID-19 is low due to strong safety measures in place.
The government said residents and businesses that don't comply with the new rules would face penalties, such as fines.
HOW TO PROVE VACCINATION STATUS
Vaccine receipts are available as paper receipts or can be downloaded on a computer, phone or tablet.
Residents who received their vaccine out of province should contact the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit to record their information and receive proper documentation.
Photo identification is required (such as a health or driver's licence), along with proof of vaccination status.
For details on how to get proof of your immunization, call the Provincial Vaccine Information Line 1-888-999-6488.
On Oct. 22, the province plans to introduce an enhanced vaccine certificate and a verification app where businesses can scan a QR code.
WHY IMPLEMENT A VACCINE CERTIFICATE
The Ontario government aims to get as many people vaccinated as possible and avoid another lockdown as the fourth wave of COVID-19 drives cases upwards, mainly due to the Delta variant.
Ontario's health minister said the provincial vaccine appointment portal saw bookings more than double since the vaccine certificate system was announced 24 hours ago.
The health minister did not provide the number of new bookings.
In Simcoe Muskoka, the health unit reports most positive COVID-19 tests are among unvaccinated residents.
On Thursday, public health logged 34 new COVID-19 cases. Of those, the health unit reports 25 are unvaccinated individuals.
The health unit has opened several walk-in vaccination clinics across Simcoe Muskoka for anyone wishing to get their shot.
A complete list of clinics offering first and second doses with no appointment necessary is available here.