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  • Chamber welcomes news of Ontario’s Vaccine Passport System for High-Risk Settings, Yet Further Guid

    Chamber welcomes news of Ontario’s Vaccine Passport System
    for High-Risk Settings, Yet Further Guidance Required
    September 2, 2021
    Sault Ste. Marie, ON – The Sault Ste. Marie Chamber of Commerce supports yesterday’s announcement by the Government of Ontario regarding guidelines for the implementation of a provincially guided proof-of immunization program.
    “Government guidance and oversight on this type of framework is critically important,” explains Sault Ste. Marie Chamber of Commerce CEO, Rory Ring.  “Without clear-cut expectations, rules, and benchmarks across the board, the burden is on individual businesses to create, implement, and enforce their own rules and this specifically and disproportionately impacts small business.” 
    Ontario will require people to be fully vaccinated (two doses plus 14 days) and provide proof of their vaccination status to access certain businesses and settings starting September 22, 2021.
    This approach focuses on higher-risk indoor public settings where face coverings cannot always be worn and includes:
    • Restaurants and bars (excluding outdoor patios, as well as 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 and personal fitness training, such as gyms, fitness and recreational facilities with the exception of youth recreational sport;
    • Sporting events;
    • Casinos, bingo halls and gaming establishments;
    • Concerts, music festivals, theatres and cinemas;
    • Strip clubs, bathhouses and sex clubs;
    • Racing venues (e.g., horse racing).
    These mandatory requirements would not apply to outdoor settings where the risk of transmission is lower, including patios, with the exception of outdoor nightclub spaces given the risk associated with the setting. In addition, these requirements will not apply to settings where people receive medical care, food from grocery stores, medical supplies and the like. Aligned with public health measures currently in place, indoor masking policies will continue to remain in place.
    Individuals who cannot receive the vaccine due to medical exemptions will be permitted entry with a doctor’s note until recognized medical exemptions can be integrated as part of a digital vaccine certificate. Children who are 11 years of age and younger and unable to be vaccinated will also be exempt from these requirements.
    “We support the implementation of a provincial vaccination certificate for high-risk indoor settings that is verifiable, secure, standardized, accessible, and portable, as recommended by Ontario’s Science Table,” said Ontario Chamber of Commerce President and CEO, Rocco Rossi in a Wednesday statement following the announcement. “We are now in the fourth wave and COVID-19 vaccination is the single greatest risk mitigation tool against a resurgence of the virus. A well-designed vaccine passport system can help prevent another province-wide lockdown. COVID-19 vaccination mandates for permitted entry in high-risk commercial spaces are key to preventing viral spread, protecting the most vulnerable groups, and ensuring the success of our economy.”
    “Locally, Sault Ste. Marie has done well with vaccination numbers and low cases. In Algoma, we currently have 83% of the eligible population, 12 and over, with at least one vaccine dose and 77% fully vaccinated with two doses,” notes Ring.  “Implementing a proof-of-immunization program will encourage more Ontarians to get vaccinated, as we have seen in British Columbia and Quebec, while allowing businesses to remain open even as case counts rise. A fourth wave lockdown would be devastating and very tough for most small businesses to manage.”
    “There remains an opportunity for the government to provide further guidance to the province’s business community, particularly around workplace vaccination policies for employees,” adds Ring. “Many small businesses are struggling with establishing internal policies for their workers and without proper guidance from the Ontario government, we could end up with a patchwork of inconsistent policies across the province. Clarity should be provided around what constitutes accommodation, how the technology can be used for employees, timelines, enforcement, and other considerations.”
    To assist businesses with employee safety and encourage early COVID-19 detection, the Sault Ste. Marie Chamber of Commerce continues to offer free rapid testing kits to local small businesses, for use with staff, to assist with continued safe operations. The Ontario Chamber of Commerce has also provided guidelines to help small businesses develop an internal workplace vaccination policy. The Vax Pass Tenets can be viewed here.”  
    About the Sault Ste. Marie Chamber of Commerce
    The Sault Ste. Marie Chamber of Commerce represents the interests of 700 plus business and agencies in Sault Ste. Marie and has been serving the needs of this community since 1889. The Sault Ste. Marie Chamber of Commerce will lead the way as the voice of business, advancing economic prosperity for its membership and the business community. Learn more about the SSMCOC at www.ssmcoc.com
    Media Contact:
    Rory Ring, Chief Executive Officer

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