Premier Ford Rejects Vaccine Passports on Eve of Step 3 Reopening

Ontario Premier Doug Ford firmly rejected the possibility of implementing vaccine passports on Thursday.

Premier Ford spoke at a news conference announcing a new long-term care home in Toronto, the Runnymede Long-Term Care Home, expected to open in the summer of 2023. The centre is expected to provide 200 new long-term care spaces.

“No, we aren’t doing it,” he said. “We’re not going to have a split society.”

As for whether it will be mandatory for healthcare workers to take a vaccine, Ford said while they’re encouraged to do so, no one should be forced to be immunized.

“I’m not in favour of a mandatory certification and neither, by the way, is the chief medical officer,” said Premier Ford. “Folks, just please go get vaccinated.”

Premier Ford’s comments follow similar ones by Solicitor General Sylvia Jones a day before, who shut down the possibility of any sort of proof-of-vaccination system being introduced in the province.

If needed, Ms. Jones said, Ontarians fully who are vaccinated against COVID-19 can rely on the receipt printed or emailed to them after their second shot.

Some businesses in the province have said that when Ontario enters Step 3 of its reopening plan, patrons will need to show proof of vaccination upon arrival.

Toronto Mayor John Tory has called on the provincial government to create a voluntary system that would aid individual businesses or organizations determine the vaccination status of patrons and members. The Toronto Region Board of Trade has also endorsed such an initiative.

Premier Ford said Thursday he will be addressing the question of a federal vaccination card with the prime minister later in the day.

Ontario reported 143 new cases of COVID-19 and 10 more deaths linked to the illness on Thursday, while total vaccinations fell by more than 100,000 from the same day last week.

Public health units collectively administered another 166,201 doses of COVID-19 vaccines yesterday, of which roughly 88 percent were second shots. Last Wednesday saw more than 268,000 shots given out provincewide.

More than 57 percent of Ontarians aged 12 and older have now had two doses of vaccines.

This morning, CBC News reported that the Ontario government is currently wading through the legal and ethical issues involved in developing vaccination policies for certain employment sectors.

As of 12:01 a.m. tonight, all of Ontario’s 34 public health units will move into Step 3 of the provincial government’s reopening plan.

The move allows for outdoor social gatherings of up to 100 people and up to 25 people inside.

Indoor sports and recreational fitness facilities, including gyms, would be able to open again at 50 percent capacity or a maximum of 1,000 people, whichever is less.

Indoor dining, retail and personal care would have no capacity limits as long as patrons can properly physically distance. 

Religious services and events such as weddings and funerals can also operate indoors, as long as people are following other public health measures.

Places such as museums, aquariums, casinos and bingo halls can run at 50 percent capacity indoors and 75 percent outdoors. Cinemas will also be allowed to open under the same restrictions (the sale of popcorn and other food will be allowed).

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