Sudbury·Audio

'I don't know what the answer is': the debate over whether you need two shots to get in

Northern Ontario has re-opened from COVID-19 lockdown, but doors could soon be closing to those who are not vaccinated against the coronavirus.  That could include everything from your local theatre, hockey arenas or even city hall. 

Some say the province has 'failed' people by not taking the lead and issuing a vaccination card

The paper receipt given out at vaccination clinics is the main way of proving you've been inoculated against COVID-19 in Ontario. (Submitted by Robin Trumble)

Northern Ontario has re-opened from COVID-19 lockdown, but doors could soon be closing to those who are not vaccinated against the coronavirus. 

That could include everything from your local theatre, hockey arenas or even city hall. 

Elliot Lake city council wants to switch off their laptops this fall and start holding council meetings and community advisory committee meetings in person. 

But city councillors aren't sure they can force people to show proof of vaccination before letting them take part in local democracy. 

"I don't have a right to ask you if you've had the vaccine, I don't believe, but I'd sure like to know," said Elliot Lake councillor Sandy Finamore. 

"So, I don't know what the answer is."

Elliot Lake city council is debating whether to return to in-person meetings in the fall and whether it can require attendees to show proof of vaccination. (City of Elliot Lake )

"If you haven't had the shots, you're on Zoom. And I haven't got much sympathy for those who can't accept that," city councillor Tom Turner said during a virtual meeting this week. 

"We've been through a rough year and a half, but we have the solution. And we need people to support that solution and that includes us."

Sault College announced this week that you need two shots if you want to play varsity sports or live in residence this fall.

Rick Webb, the school's director of communications and human resources, said those in residence will have until Sept. 20 to prove they're double dosed or face eviction. 

Anyone living in Sault College residence has to show proof of vaccination before Sept. 20 or face eviction. (Sault College)

"We felt that those were the two areas where students really had to come together and had no options. Where the rest of our operations we have a lot of safety measures in place," he said.

Webb said that includes in classrooms and labs at Sault College, where physical distancing will still be enforced this fall.

Most other universities and colleges in the northeast have either not decided yet on vaccination requirements or are simply encouraging students and staff to get the shots. 

The Ontario government says it will release its back-to-school plan for elementary and secondary students next week.

The Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League requires all players, coaches, referees and billet families to be fully vaccinated, but has yet to decide if it will do the same for fans. (Hearst Lumberjacks)

The Ontario Hockey league is requiring all players, coaches, referees and billet families to be fully vaccinated before training camps open in August. 

The Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League is doing the same and has had to release a few players who didn't want to get the shot. 

Commissioner Robert Mazzuca said "the big question" is whether fans will need to show proof of vaccination before getting a ticket.

"I believe you should have proof of vaccination to enter the facilities," he said, adding that they and the OHL are allowed up to 1,000 spectators per game. 

"I think government in particular has failed the people right now, because I think it would make it a lot logistically simpler."

Mazzuca wishes the province would take the lead on this issue and create a vaccination card like they have in Manitoba.

In Quebec, the government sends a custom QR code to every fully vaccinated citizen. Other provinces are issuing a vaccination card. (Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press)

Michael Rawley is getting ready to revive Shakespeare in the Park next week in Kirkland Lake and says the vaccination question has yet to come up.

The artistic managing director of the Lasalle Theatre is instead worrying about the official public health guidelines and specifically how to physically distance the 100 people they're allowed to sell tickets to. 

"Since this has happened, there's math involved now. Like trying to seat people is a puzzle now," said Rawley.

"Either people are going to be totally afraid and stay away in droves or they're going to be desperate to do something and flock."

Shakespeare in the Park returns to Kirkland Lake this August, but organizers say they've been focused on following the official public health guidelines and the vaccination question has yet to be raised. (Lasalle Theatre)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Erik White

journalist

Erik White is a CBC journalist based in Sudbury. He covers a wide range of stories about northern Ontario. Connect with him on Twitter @erikjwhite. Send story ideas to erik.white@cbc.ca

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