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Thursday, 16 December 2021 20:15

Ontario Taking Action to Protect Against Omicron Variant

On December 10, 2021, the Province announced that the Ontario government will be adjusting its COVID-19 response that will strengthen the province’s proof of vaccination requirements and enhance public health measures. This includes the following measures:

  • Delaying the lifting of proof of vaccination requirements beyond January 17, 2022, aligned with the reopening plan that stipulated that doing so was contingent on the absence of concerning trends.
  • Effective January 4, 2022, requiring the use of the enhanced vaccine certificate with QR code and the Verify Ontario app in settings where proof of vaccination is required. The QR code can be used digitally or by printing a paper copy. Individuals can download their enhanced certificate with QR code by visiting https://covid-19.ontario.ca/book-vaccine/.
  • Strengthening the verification process for medical exemptions and clinical trial exemptions by requiring a certificate with a QR code. Organizations and businesses that are under the provincial proof-of-vaccination system will be advised to no longer accept physician notes as of January 10, 2022.
  • Effective December 20, 2021, requiring proof of vaccination for youth aged 12 to 17 years participating in organized sports at recreational facilities.
  • On the advice of the Chief Medical Officer of Health, Ontarians are strongly advised to limit their social gatherings and the number of gatherings they attend over the holiday season. Additional precautions should be taken if all individuals are not fully vaccinated or where vaccination status is unknown. Employers in all industries should make every effort to allow employees to work from home.

The full suite of measures is outlined in the backgrounder.

Click here for the full press release from the Province.

On December 15, 2021, the Province announced that the Ontario government will be rapidly accelerating its booster dose rollout by expanding eligibility to all individuals aged 18 and over, as well as shortening the interval to three months following an individuals second dose.

Starting Monday, December 20, 2021, individuals aged 18 and over will be eligible to schedule their booster dose appointment through Ontario’s booking portal, by calling the Provincial Vaccine Contact Centre, through Indigenous-led vaccination clinics, participating pharmacies and primary care settings. Appointments will be booked three months (84 days) after a second dose. Additionally, pharmacies and other channels may provide boosters for 18 and over at the three-month interval starting today for walk-ins. In addition, as of yesterday, individuals aged 50 and over as well as those currently eligible who have already booked their appointment at an interval of six months (168 days) can call the Provincial Vaccine Contact Centre to re-book for an earlier date and can change their appointment through Ontario’s booking portal starting on Monday.

To provide an additional layer of protection against COVID-19 and variants during the holiday season, the provincial government will be launching a holiday testing blitz at various pop-up sites across the province, as well as select LCBO stores across Ontario. You can visit Ontario.ca/holidaytesting to find out if pop-up rapid antigen screening sites will be available in your area. Locations and operating hours will be updated weekly, and no appointment will be required.

In addition, the Ontario government announced that, effective December 18th at 12:01am Ontario will introduce a 50 per cent capacity limit to the following indoor areas of venues with a usual capacity of 1,000 or more:

  • facilities used for sports and recreational fitness activities;
  • entertainment facilities such as concert venues, theatres and cinemas;
  • racing venues;
  • meeting and event spaces;
  • studio audiences in commercial film and television production;
  • museums, galleries, aquariums, zoos, science centres, landmarks, historic sites, botanical gardens and similar attractions;
  • casinos, bingo halls and other gaming establishments; and
  • fair, rural exhibitions, and festivals.

Click here for the full release from the Province