Before concert venues and theatres officially welcome audiences back this fall, attendees will need to greet them with a vaccine certificate.
Following a much-anticipated announcement by Premier Doug Ford on Wednesday, the provincial government announced that Ontario residents will soon have to show proof that they’ve been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 in order to participate in what a briefing presentation called “higher-risk indoor public settings.” Among others, these settings include restaurants, bars, nightclubs, meeting and events spaces, gyms, sporting events, concerts, music festivals, theatres and cinemas.
“We need to protect our hospitals;” the Premier said at a news conference. “We need to avoid lockdowns at all costs.”
The vaccine certificate system will initially come into effect on September 22. Ontarians seeking entry to a venue covered by the certificate will need to show their current vaccination receipt with a valid photo identification card. Receipts can be printed or downloaded as a .pdf file to smartphones. Provincial officials have been clear that neither a recent COVID-19 infection nor a recent negative test will be able to serve as a substitute for the vaccination certificate.
The second phase of the vaccination system will come into effect on October 22. At this point, Ontarians will be able to utilize QR codes that contain the same information as vaccination receipts. Venues and businesses needing to verify a person’s vaccination status can utilize an official “verification app” to validate the QR codes, which will serve as proof of vaccination.
The restrictions do not apply to outdoor settings, nor do they apply to unvaccinated people with medical exemptions and people under twelve years of age; both of whom will be permitted to enter places where a vaccine certificate would otherwise be necessary. A vaccine certificate is also not required to enter museums or galleries.
Although the vaccine certificate will apply to audiences who may attend a performance, the artists performing and staff working at a venue are considered to be exempt from the mandated certificate at this time. This aligns with the government’s current stance to not require a vaccine certificate in most workplaces. However, paired with the current regulations for “Step Three,” performers could feasibly be unvaccinated, untested, unmasked and not distanced on stage or backstage, while every member of the audience is mandated to be vaccinated and distanced. For performers and staff, the specific requirements for those working within a concert or theatre setting is not determined by the government, but is company and venue specific.