Coronavirus | Health & Safety | Ontario | Store Operations

Retail stores exempt from Ontario’s COVID-19 certificate

September 1, 2021

Starting September 22, 2021, Ontarians will need to be fully vaccinated (e.g. two doses plus 14 days) and prove that they have been vaccinated to access certain indoor public settings and facilities.

Retail stores are exempt from Ontario’s vaccination certificate requirements. To be clear, customers will not need to show proof of vaccination to enter any retail store.

The following are examples of higher-risk indoor public settings where a photo ID and proof of vaccination are needed prior to entry:

  • Movie theatres and cinemas;
  • 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 sport and fitness activities, including personal fitness such as gyms, or recreational facilities (with the exception of youth recreational sports);
  • Casinos, bingo halls, racing venues, and gaming establishments;
  • Sporting events, concerts, music festivals, and;
  • Strip clubs, bathhouses, and sex clubs.

This policy does not apply to employees. We continue to seek clarity on employee vaccination rules.  A new regulation from released on August 24, 2021 appears to allow each of the 34 local health units to create their own obligatory workplace vaccination policies and we have heard from members that this is already creating confusion. We have been working to inform government that a province-wide approach with solid guidance and appropriate timelines is a better way for business.  

RCC will provide more information when the regulation is available to better understand how the vaccination certificate impacts retail settings with indoor restaurant seating areas.  We asked the question during a stakeholder briefing today and officials were unable to respond with certainty. 

Ontario will have exemptions for people under 12 years of age, and for unvaccinated people with medical exemptions.

Persons who’ve previously been infected by COVID-19 are still required to be fully vaccinated, and will require proof of vaccination to access those higher-risk indoor public settings.

Finally, for retailers willing to implement a voluntary vaccination protocol, Ontario encourages them to use the forthcoming vaccination certification, along with the QR code. The QR code can be read using a yet-to-be released free mobile app from Ontario, to facilitate processing (the app does not require a live connection to the internet). Ontario has shared that the QR code supports customer/employee privacy, as the information disappears from the screen shortly after being collected.

For more information, please contact:

Sebastian Prins
Director, Government Relations (Ontario)
sprins@retailcouncil.org
416-467-3759

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