Proof of COVID-19 vaccination: Resources & Links for Businesses

September 22, 2021

Effective today, Ontario will require proof of vaccination to access select settings. Please find below some links to business signage and additional resources.

Between September 22 and October 22, 2021, in addition to proof of identity, a patron must show a paper or digital version of the PDF receipt. After October 22, 2021, in addition to proof of identity, a patron may present a paper or digital version of the PDF receipt or a paper or digital version of the enhanced vaccine certificate with QR code to gain access to designated settings.

What is the full list of settings (i.e., businesses or organizations) where patrons must provide proof of identification and proof of being fully vaccinated against COVID-19?

  • Indoor areas of restaurants, bars, and other food and drink establishments without dance facilities Indoor and outdoor areas of food or drink establishments with dance facilities, including nightclubs, restoclubs, and other similar establishments
  • Indoor areas of meeting and event spaces with limited exceptions
  • Indoor areas of facilities used for sports and recreational fitness activities, including waterparks, and personal physical fitness training with limited exemptions o Includes gyms, fitness/sporting/recreational facilities, pools, leagues, sporting events, waterparks, and indoor areas of facilities where spectators watch events
  • Indoor areas of casinos, bingo halls, and other gaming establishments
  • Indoor areas of concert venues, theatres, and cinemas 3
  • Indoor areas of bathhouses, sex clubs and strip clubs
  • Indoor areas of horse racing tracks, car racing tracks and other similar venues
  • Indoor areas where commercial film and TV productions take place with studio audiences

Can I choose to have my business require individuals to show proof of vaccination at the point of entry to gain access? Can my restaurant require proof of vaccination for the outdoor patio?

While only specified businesses or organizations are legally required to ask their patrons for proof of identification and proof of being fully vaccinated against COVID-19, and the Ministry’s Guidance do not prevent other businesses or organizations from establishing a vaccination policy. The Ministry’s Guidance also do not prevent the specified businesses or organizations from establishing additional policies or requirements pertaining to their patrons. This could include businesses or organizations that want to implement policies or requirements for part of their business (e.g., entire restaurant including the outdoor patio). Businesses or organizations considering creating their own additional policies or requirements may wish to consult a lawyer. However, all Ontarians, regardless of their vaccination status, should continue to have access to necessary medical care, food from grocery stores, and basic medical supplies.

Why do patrons at the specified businesses and organizations have to be vaccinated but workers (i.e., staff/employees) do not have to be?

Employers are required under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) to take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances for the protection of a worker. This includes identifying the risks and implementing appropriate controls. This is an existing requirement for workers to wear protective personal equipment that provides protection of the eyes, nose and mouth if, in the course of providing services, the person is required to come within two metres of another person indoors who is not wearing a mask or face covering and is not separated by plexiglass or some other impermeable barrier. This is specifically designed to protect workers, especially where they are required to come into close contact with many patrons who are unmasked (e.g., restaurant, gym). Businesses or organizations are also required to implement comprehensive public health and workplace safety measures that are specific to protecting their workers. Businesses and organizations may choose to implement policies that require workers to be vaccinated.

What are the proof of vaccination requirements for Indigenous partners?

Ontario is committed to ongoing engagement with Indigenous communities and organizations, including ensuring OCAP principles are fully met. A receipt signed by an Indigenous Health Provider may be used as proof of vaccination. An Indian Status Card or an Indigenous Membership Card with the name and date of birth are appropriate documentation to provide proof of identity.

Are outdoor areas covered by tents, canopies, retractable roofs, etc. considered indoor or outdoor settings?

A setting is considered to be outdoors if an outdoor area of the business or place is: Covered by a roof, canopy, tent, awning, or other element if at least two full sides of the area are open to the outdoors and not blocked by any walls or other impermeable physical barriers; or Equipped with a retractable roof and the roof is retracted, at least one full side of the outdoor area is open to the outdoors and is not blocked by any walls or other impermeable barriers. It is possible to have indoor spaces in an outdoor setting (e.g., indoor food or drink establishment at a fair).

Can a restaurant allow unvaccinated patio patrons to dine inside if it starts to rain?

Patrons can dine in indoor areas of restaurants, bars, and other food or drink establishments if they are fully vaccinated. Patrons must provide proof of identification and of being fully vaccinated against COVID-19 at the point of entry

How can a business ensure the safety and security of its staff if they are forced to turn someone away who does not have proof of vaccination?

Many businesses are experienced at declining entry for legitimate reasons. For example, some establishments have experience preventing people under 19 from ordering or consuming alcohol or entering bars. Individuals who have any trouble with patrons could, if the situation permits, inform the patron of the requirements under O. Reg. 364/20 and offer alternate solutions (e.g., to sit on an outdoor patio, takeout). All Provincial offences officers, including by-law, police, public health inspectors and regulatory officers from several ministries and agencies may provide education and enforcement of all the requirements under the ROA, including the new proof of vaccination requirement.

If situations escalate, law enforcement, such as local police, can be contacted. In an emergency call 9-1-1. If employers update their workplace violence and harassment policies and procedures, as required under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) and all workers are informed of such, workplaces will be better able to respond to any unfortunate incidents that may occur in relation to the requirement for vaccination certificates. Tools and resources are available to help businesses implement the necessary safety measures including guidance to develop workplace violence and harassment measures and procedures as part of their COVID Safety Plan. Examples of some other helpful resources are (but not limited to): a) Developing your COVID Safety Plan b)Understand the law on workplace violence and harassment c)Are your employees prepared to handle COVID-linked violence? d)WSPS Workplace Violence and Harassment Toolbox.

Please follow the Ministry of Health: Questions & Answers link to view more questions as well as submit your own questions.