What the New Vaccination Passport Means for Ontario Businesses

Ontario’s vaccine passport (or certificate, as the provincial government is calling it) came into effect on September 22, 2021. This new system requires Ontario residents and visitors to provide proof of their vaccination status to access certain services and businesses. To facilitate this, the province plans to introduce an enhanced digital vaccine receipt that features a QR code that can be stored on a smartphone (a new app will be introduced to verify authenticity).

Since Ontario is a bit “late to the game” implementing this policy, the system is still in a state of development and the actual digital passports might not be in everyone’s hands for a while. In the meantime, Ontario residents are being asked to use the vaccine receipt provided at the time of their second dose (you can also download a digital PDF of your receipt here, https://covid19.ontariohealth.ca/app-home and save it to your device). A photo ID must also be shown.

These restrictions will not apply to medical care, grocery stores, medical supplies, and similar essential services (and for now it appears the passport system will not apply to most retail locations). The passport system does not apply to employees attending their workplace.

Businesses That Must Request Proof of Vaccination from Customers

You will be required to provide proof of full vaccination receipt if you attend any of the following venues:

  • Restaurants and bars (excluding outdoor patios, delivery, and takeout);
  • Nightclubs (including outdoor areas of the establishment);
  • Meeting and event spaces, such as banquet halls and conference/convention centres;
  • Facilities used for sports and fitness activities such as gyms (exceptions for youth sports);
  • Sporting events;
  • Casinos, bingo halls and gaming establishments;
  • Concerts, music festivals, theatres and cinemas;
  • Adult entertainment venues;
  • Racing venues (horse and auto racing).


Those with a medical condition certified by a physician may be exempted from these restrictions as will children 11 years of age and younger who cannot yet be vaccinated.  Its not clear how the new smartphone application system with QR code will incorporate those claiming religious exemptions from vaccination though the new system appears to have a feature recognizing a medical accommodation provided it has been certified by a physician or nurse practitioner.

If you need assistance understanding the new passport requirements, or your workplace needs extra HR support during these challenging times, contact us today at SHRP!

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