Proof of vaccination required at some Waterloo Region businesses as Ont. launches certification program
Waterloo Region residents will need to show proof of their COVID-19 vaccination status to access many non-essential businesses starting Wednesday.
Premier Doug Ford said he understands some people are concerned about the new policy, but he said it was a necessary step during the fourth wave of the pandemic.
"We can't afford to shut down again or see another surge in cases," he said.
He encouraged people to be patient with business owners and other front-line workers while the program comes into effect.
"Enforcement will lead with eduction and will be reasonable for business owners," Ford said.
He said the vaccine certificate will only be in place for as long as it is needed.
FIRST DAY IN WATERLOO REGION
Businesses in Waterloo Region were busy on Wednesday adapting to the new vaccine certification requirements.
Proof of full vaccination is required to dine indoors at restaurants.
"We were met by the host and she asked, you know, if we had our vaccination papers, which we did, and an ID," said Gerry Kraft, who had lunch at Jack's Family Restaurant in Waterloo on Wednesday. "It was very, very smooth and we couldn't have thought any better than that."
Indoor dining is considered a higher-risk setting, but people eating on a patio aren't require to provide a vaccine certificate.
"They key is if you're taking your mask off, which dine-in customers are, you will need to show your proof of vaccination," said Saddy Kulafi, part owner and operating manager at Jack's Family Restaurant.
Kulafi said they're trying to make the process as easy as possible.
"Some people forgot their proof of vaccination, but we have a QR code where you can scan and it takes you straight to the Ministry website where as long as you have your health care you can get your proof of vaccination in minutes," Kulafi said.
The restaurant is asking people to be understanding, especially on busy weekends.
"This will slow seating a bit, even for those who are following the rules," Kulafi said. "We do ask everyone to be patient and kind."
Proof of vaccination is not required to place or pick up a takeout order at a restaurant, or for patio customers to come inside to use the bathroom.
Vaccine certificates also aren't required to shop at a mall, but are necessary to eat in a food court.
At Fairview Park Mall in Kitchener, the food court tables are now cordoned off and monitored by security guards checking documentation.
The rules also apply to restaurants in malls.
Those without a vaccine certificate can still order food but have to eat it outside the mall.
"The health and safety of our guests, clients and employees is our primary concern," Fairway Park Mall said in a statement.
POLICE CHIEF ASKS FOR PATIENCE
Police Chief Bryan Larkin is asking for "patience, generosity and kindness" as the province launches its proof of COVID-19 vaccination program.
"As this change takes effect, there will undoubtedly be confusion, uncertainty, and frustration," Larkin said in a letter to residents.
Larkin said police's main role regarding vaccine certificates is maintaining peace and safety for Waterloo Region residents.
"While we will not be conducting proactive compliance checks of vaccination passports, we will respond as needed and when required if there are incidents that include violence, threat of violence, or trespassing," he said.
DOWNLOAD YOUR VACCINE CERTIFICATE
Fully vaccinated residents can find their vaccination receipts on the province's website. They will need to show the receipt, which can be printed or saves as a PDF on a mobile device, along with government-issued ID.
That process will remain in place until Oct. 22, when the province's QR code and verification app is supposed to come into affect.
Officials with the Region of Waterloo said residents without a printer who want a paper copy of their vaccine receipt can visit vaccine clinics at The Boarwalk or Pinebush Road, or visit their local library for help.
WHERE YOU'LL NEED PROOF OF VACCINATION
People will need vaccine certificates to access many non-essential services in Ontario. Public health measures like masking and distancing will also remain in place.
Examples of where proof of vaccination is required include:
- Restaurants and bars (excluding outdoor patios)
- Nightclubs (including outdoor areas)
- 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 (with the exception of youth recreational sport)
- Sporting events
- Indoor areas of waterparks
- Indoor areas of commercial film and TV productions with studio audiences
- Casinos, bingo halls and gaming establishments
- Concerts, music festivals, theatres and cinemas
- Strip clubs, bathhouses and sex clubs
- Racing venues
The government says at no time will anyone unvaccinated be prevented from accessing necessary medical care, food from grocery stores, basic medical supplies or other essentials.
With files from CTV Toronto