Ontario will not make COVID-19 vaccination mandatory for any industry, Premier Doug Ford said Thursday as businesses preparing to reopen domestic services questioned whether to ask staff and customers to they had been vaccinated.
The province is expected to move to Stage 3 of its plan to reopen on Friday, which will see gyms and restaurants resume indoor activities while cinemas, theaters and other indoor attractions can once again welcome customers after months of closure.
The restrictions are being lifted earlier than expected thanks to positive pandemic trends and rising vaccination rates – as of Thursday, 79% of adult Ontarians had received one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and 59% had received two injections.
Mr Ford said his government was not planning to impose COVID-19 vaccines on workers in any industry, nor to develop a “provincial vaccine passport” similar to the one announced in Quebec to determine the access to certain activities.
“I think it’s our constitutional right to take it or not to take it,” he said of vaccines against the virus. “I’ve been here for months begging begging [for] everyone to get it, but no one should have to do anything.
He added that it is up to private companies to develop their own employee vaccination policies.
“We don’t do it, that simple,” the prime minister said when asked about national vaccine passports. “We are not going to have a divided society. “
The government has, however, emphasized the receipt of vaccines that people receive after receiving their vaccines which could be presented if certain companies or other settings so request.
Restaurants Canada said vaccine passports showing proof of immunization would not be a “silver bullet” to ensure safety, citing concerns about the pressure being placed on workers.
” A lot [operators] are concerned that younger employees are put in a position to verify personal information and confront customers, ”the industry group said in a statement.
“Throughout the pandemic, restaurants have shown their ability to operate safely and provide an alternative to private gatherings in a regulated setting. “
GoodLife Fitness said on Twitter this week that the gym chain does not plan to require vaccination for gym staff or members entering any location.
A gymnasium in Timmins, Ont., Takes the opposite approach.
On its website, Discover Fitness said anyone entering the facility or using its services will need to have received both doses of a COVID-19 vaccine, although exceptions based on medical or other reasons are considered in the case. by case.
The gymnasium also said the policy would be implemented “assuming Ontario’s vaccine supply allows it.”
A group of strip clubs in Toronto reported this week that companies “will do their best to ensure that all staff and dancers working in their clubs are vaccinated.”
“Admission to adult clubs in the Toronto area will only be granted to clients who are vaccinated. Although the full vaccination is optimal, clients on the first dose will be admitted at this time, ”the Toronto chapter of the Canadian Adult Entertainment Association said in a statement.
One of the companies involved noted in a subsequent statement that enforcing the policy would be tricky. Filmores Hotel said balancing privacy and security concerns is a “fine line” and called the audit a “dynamic process” given the different ways of accessing the vaccine and the different injections offered around the world. .
“To our customers, if you have evidence and you do not object to producing it, please do so,” the statement said. “Remember, we try to do what’s best for our staff, our artists, our clients and the general public. “
The Cineplex chain of theaters said it would adhere to a vaccination policy if put in place by the government.
“So far, we are confident in our approach, noting that we have hosted seven million moviegoers during the pandemic, and we have not had any cases of transmission traced in any of our theaters,” said spokesperson Sarah Van Lange in a statement.
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