GUELPH -- University of Guelph researchers are studying the ethics behind whether COVID-19 immunity passports would help minimize the spread of the disease in Ontario.

Andrew Bailey, the philosophy professor leading the study, said certification would help loosen COVID-19 restrictions for immunized Ontarians.

"Once people are vaccinated, they don't need that kind of protection anymore, so the restrictions should be loosened," he said.

But Bailey adds it is a massive social experiment that requires planning before being implemented.

There's also the question of if immunity passports are ethical, which Bailey believes they are.

"Just the fact that we're letting some people do things that other people can't doesn't mean it's wrong," he said. "The question is whether it is arbitrary. And this case, my take would be it is not arbitrary."

He continued: "There is a genuine ethical difference between people who are vaccinated and people who don't."

The researcher said there are some potential problems when it comes to the idea of a passport, and people looking for a return to normalcy without getting vaccinated might resort to dangerous measures.

Bailey said reducing the divide between those who are vaccine-hesitant and those who are not is one of the biggest challenges in making immunity passports realistic.

Requiring proof of immunity from certain viruses is not out of the ordinary. Elementary school students require proof of vaccination for diseases such as polio and rubella.

The Canadian Civil Liberties Association said it doesn't support any form of vaccine passport, with the choice to get a COVID-19 vaccine or not a personal one.

"Carrying papers to show that we made that decision has the potential to create a two-tier society," said Brenda McPhail with the Canadian Civil Liberties Association. "The included, those that got the vaccine, the excluded, those who don't."

The idea of vaccine passports has drawn mixed opinions among those in Waterloo Region.

"To have some sort of proof that you got a vaccine, it makes it so much easier for everybody else," said one resident.

"There are some equity issues with it, absolutely," another resident said.

According to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, the federal government is still looking at the prospect of vaccine passports and requiring some form of proof of vaccination to travel.

Bailey said more research needs to be done to determine the efficacy of immunity passports and that for them to work, everyone needs to have equal opportunity for access to vaccines.