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Ontario to begin vaccine certificate system Sept. 22

Ontario Premier Doug Ford, wearing a dark gray suit, white shirt and blue tie
Doug Ford
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Ontario Premier Doug Ford on Wednesday announced the province's new COVID-19 vaccine certificate system.

As expected, Ontario Premier Doug Ford has announced a vaccine certificate system. It will go into effect Sept. 22. Bylaw officers would be responsible for enforcing the certificate, and people or businesses who do not comply will face fines.

The certificates will be required for anyone accessing non-essential business in Ontario. That includes gyms, indoor restaurants, movie theaters and concert halls.

The certificates won’t be necessary for retail shopping, salons and barbershops, banks, places of worship, essential services, workplaces or patios and other outdoor spaces. But Ontario’s medical officer of health, Dr. Kieran Moore, said if the risk increases in other venues, other measures can be implemented.

Ford said the system is necessary to keep non-essential businesses open, as the province continues to struggle with a surging fourth wave of COVID-19, driven by the Delta variant. He said it is something he did not want to do, but had no choice.

"This is a serious step that we’re not taking lightly. And I know this is going to be very difficult for some people," he said. "And let me be clear.  This is a temporary tool that we won’t use for a day longer than we have to. This is what we have to do right now in the face of this fourth wave."

Ford said the policy is based on evidence and the best medical advice. He said the aim of the certificates is to reduce overall transmission and encourage more people to get their vaccines. Only about 76% of those twelve and older in Ontario are fully vaccinated.