“This is a very important and commendable advancement on the part of the provincial government,” the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit’s (SMDHU) Medical Officer of Health Dr. Charles Gardner said about the province’s new vaccine certificate and verification app system.

Gardner said during his weekly briefing on Tuesday the system, which will be put in place on September 22nd, will help keep both vaccinated and non-vaccinated people safe. He added this will also help keep businesses open, instead of forcing them to shut down.

The system is in place for mostly non-essential businesses. If you’re going grocery shopping or to the pharmacy, you won’t need to bring proof of vaccination with you. It also won’t be required for retail shopping or to sit on an outdoor patio.

“I feel like it goes quite far,” Garnder said when asked if he believes the system goes far enough. 

The vaccine certificate and government-issued photo ID combo will be the only way to show proof of vaccination until October 22nd when the province releases a phone app. A personalized QR code will be used to provide businesses with proof of vaccination and the government is working on an app for businesses that would allow them to verify the information without revealing any personal information.

“In my mind, the purpose of such a program is to make these environments safer and reduce the likelihood of transmission taking place in non-essential service settings,” Gardner went on to say. He added that he hopes this will push people that aren’t vaccinated yet to get immunized. The details of the program were released a few minutes before Gardner’s briefing started, so he said he would have more to say in the coming days. 

Gardner said he would recommend the system be kept in place as long as the fourth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic is active. It’s unknown how long the latest wave will last. In early August, Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam said epidemiology and modelling data showed the country was at the start of a Delta variant-driven fourth wave. Gardner said it could continue for “many weeks.” 

“I think it’s important to have this kind of control measure in place when you have a high degree of transmission happening,” Gardner said.