Chamber asks health unit to not mandate vaccine policies for businesses

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By Nick Seebruch
Chamber asks health unit to not mandate vaccine policies for businesses
Dr. Paul Roumeliotis, Medical Officer of Health with the EOHU holds an empty vial of the Pfizer version of the COVID-19 vaccine at a mass vaccination clinic at the Benson Centre on Tuesday, May 18, 2021 (Nick Seebruch/ Seaway News).

CORNWALL, Ontario – The Cornwall and Area Chamber of Commerce has been communicating with local businesses about what to expect when the provincial vaccine passport system goes into effect on Sept. 22. They have also been speaking with the Eastern Ontario Health Unit (EOHU) about vaccine mandate policies.

RELATED: Province launches proof of vaccination requirement for some settings

The Chamber has advocated against mandatory vaccination policies to Dr. Paul Roumelitois, Medical Officer of Health with the EOHU on behalf of its members.

“For the record, we strongly recommended that he not mandate vaccine policies be adopted by businesses,” said Chamber Executive Director Greg Pietersma in an email to members about his conversations with Dr. Roumelitois.

“The additional operational overhead and potential cost as well as the impact on staffing were not what businesses needed to be burdened with at this moment. We are also concerned about how a vaccine policy would be managed to ensure compliance with Protection of Personal Information policies,” he added.

In a further email, Pietersma advised any business that is considering implementing a vaccine mandate to consult a lawyer first.

For the issue of vaccine passports, Pietersma told members that there was very little details or advice that he could provide at this time.

On Sept. 1, the province of Ontario announced its intention to introduce a vaccine passport system for some settings.

On Sept. 22, the receipt that a vaccinated person received after being vaccinated will count as proof of vaccination. For those who did not keep their receipt, a new one can be downloaded on the provincial vaccination website or obtained by calling 1-833-943-3900.

By Oct. 22, the province hopes to have completed an enhanced vaccine certificate, as well as a digital app that will allow businesses to scan a QR Code on a person’s phone to verify vaccination.

The passport will be required for those attending the following establishments or events:

  • 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 sports and fitness activities and personal fitness training, such as gyms, fitness and recreational facilities with the exception of youth recreational sport;
  • Sporting events;
  • Casinos, bingo halls and gaming establishments;
  • Concerts, music festivals, theatres and cinemas;
  • Strip clubs, bathhouses and sex clubs;
  • Racing venues (e.g., horse racing).

It should be noted that Dr. Roumeliotis has stated that while guests, customers, or attendees to the above listed settings will be required to show proof of vaccination, employees of those same settings will not be required to be vaccinated.

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