Masks and full vaccination status are now officially required to enter an Ontario casino.
The province’s new vaccination policy came into effect on Sept. 22.
And with that, Ontarians are now required to provide proof of the double poke (alongside a 14-day grace period) to access certain businesses, including casinos.
“Our highest concern – what keeps me up at night – is ensuring we never lose our hard-fought progress,” said Premier Doug Ford.
“We can’t afford to shut down again or experience a sudden surge in cases like we’re seeing in other provinces across the country.”
Vaccination policy creates divide during opening week
Leaders urge patience as workers and businesses adjust.
Dr. Kieran Moore, Ontario’s lead medical officer, says the hope is the new system will help boost vaccination rates. In particular, the hope is to target 20- to 39-year-olds. Currently, that group has the highest rate of infection in the province.
Regardless, the response to the new policy has been undeniably decisive.
While many – such as Premier Ford – view it as a necessary evil to slow COVID-19. Others see it as an infringement of civil liberties.
Across the province, various business owners reported physical and verbal confrontations during the new policy’s first week. Others have ignored it altogether.
In recent weeks a group called the NoPass List has gained some notable traction. The band of 1000-plus small business owners are committed to “freedom of choice.”
In other words, they don’t require vaccinated checks upon entry to their locations.
“Let me be very clear: This is a temporary and exceptional measure,” said Ford. “We will only use these certificates for as long as they’re needed and not one day longer.”
Casinos across Ontario, Canada differ in approach to vaccine
When it comes to the Canadian gaming industry, matters have also varied.
Others – such as Loto – Québec – have been a bit more lenient. They don’t require employees to be fully vaccinated (although patrons must be).
New Brunswick also rolls out its vaccine passport system as well
In the east, New Brunswick also launched its vaccine passport system.
The province’s Premier Blaine Higgs said the New Brunswick’s original goalposts of 75% vaccinated have moved. The objective is now 90% due to the new highly transmissible variants.
Similar to the Ontario system, New Brunswick will allow for rare instances of medical exemptions. But such status is only granted for those with documentation from their healthcare provider.
Ontario reported 466 new cases on Sept.28. New Brunswick had 68 on the same date.