How Ontario's proof of vaccination system will be enforced in Ottawa
OTTAWA -- Ontario's proof of vaccination system is now in effect. Residents who wish to visit certain businesses, such as restaurants, or attend sporting events must show proof they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
At present, businesses will be asking people for a paper or digital copy of their vaccination receipt and a piece of government-issued ID. Next month, Ontario plans to launch a smartphone app for this purpose.
Ottawa Bylaw spokesperson Michael Lalonde told CTV Morning Live on Wednesday morning that bylaw's role would be ensure compliance with the regulations.
"Businesses who are part of the list that are required to ask for a vaccine passport will be required to ask patrons prior to entering their business for proof of vaccination, along with a piece of identification, to make sure that everyone in the establishment is protected from COVID-19," he said.
Lalonde said bylaw would rely on the public to report businesses that are not checking for proof of vaccination, but he's not expecting many calls.
"We're not expecting a high rate of call volume because in Ottawa we do have a high rate of vaccination, with 82 per cent of people 12 years and older fully vaccinated," he said. "We also believe this will be a tool that is welcomed in the business community because it does protect their employees and their customers from COVID-19 transmission within their workplace."
Lalonde said if a customer becomes forceful in their refusal to present their proof of vaccination, the business should call the non-emergency line for Ottawa police, which is 613-236-1222.
"We do believe that people understand that the pandemic has been really hard on businesses for the past 18 months and the main goal with this is to keep them open," he said.
Bylaw will be conducting some proactive enforcement. Lalonde said there would be spot checks to see if businesses are asking for proof of vaccination, but bylaw will still be relying on reports from the public.
"If we do see a business that is not complying with the regulations, then it is something that is a concern for us and for public safety and we want to rectify this as quickly as possible."
Non-compliance comes with a fine of $750, which rises to $880 with the victim surcharge, but Lalonde said he does not expect to write many tickets.
"We do believe that Ottawans are very understanding of the businesses having hardship over the past 18 months," he said. "We don’t wish to impose (fines) on any business, so that's why, at first, we're going to be doing education because it is a new regulation within the pandemic realm and we want to make sure that the exceptions are all captured and all the regulations are captured for your specific business."
Why some businesses and not others?
While restaurants, bars, movie theatres, sports venues and gyms require proof of vaccination, other businesses, such as retail stores do not.
Small business advocate Michael Wood told CTV Morning Live part of the issue is the removal of masks.
"I think, when we look at restaurants, people are sitting there without a mask on. I think that's what that's trying to combat," he said. "Any place that they say you can, or should, or have to take a mask off is where you'll have to show it, so I can see why that's the case."
Wood said business owners are not keen on enforcing the new rules, but he added that he believes most residents of Ottawa will be understanding.
"I've been setting up these pop-up vaccination sites at small businesses and initially people were worried about protesters and there's been no problem, so I would like to think that the people in this city have proven along the way that they are going to follow the rules," Wood said. "This is a government mandate, not a small business mandate. That's important to remember; the business is just following what they've been told they have to do by the government so, moving forward, I really think that everybody's going to be on their best behaviour."