Ford says COVID-19 'doesn't care' about politics after Liberal win, Ontario reports 574 new cases
Vaccine certificate system to start Wednesday, province also reporting 8 more deaths
Ontario Premier Doug Ford vowed to continue to work closely with the newly re-elected prime minister on Tuesday a day ahead of the province's vaccine certificate program rollout.
Doug Ford congratulated Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on winning Monday's election in an open letter before saying it was a contentious campaign.
Ford says he knows many people are concerned about their civil liberties being impeded by the certificates that are set to be introduced Wednesday. Certificates proving that a person has been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 will be necessary to enter a gym, theatre, or dine inside a restaurant.
"I understand your concerns about protecting your civil liberties and right to privacy. While many fully vaccinated people like myself share these concerns, the greater concern is having to shut down again or experience a sudden surge in cases like in Alberta and Saskatchewan," Ford said.
"COVID-19 doesn't care about partisanship or politics and I will continue to work closely with the Prime Minister."
At a news conference Tuesday afternoon, provincial Medical Officer of Health Dr. Kieran Moore implored that people be considerate as Ontario's vaccine certificate program kicks in.
"Please, let's all remain calm and patient. There will be a learning curve for everyone, so please be considerate of each other," he said.
New program launches Wednesday
Starting Wednesday, patrons at dine-in restaurants, nightclubs, gyms, sports facilities and other venues will need to present a receipt of full vaccination along with a form of government-issued identification. Doctors' notes for medical exemptions will also be accepted.
The province aims to launch a QR code and verification app on Oct. 22 for businesses to streamline the process.
Retail stores and services considered "essential," like grocery stores, are exempt. Children under age 12 who can't be vaccinated are also exempt, as are people under 18 entering facilities for organized sports.
The system also doesn't apply to venue staff.
Fines are on the table for businesses that don't comply with the checks required by the system, and for patrons who give false information. But businesses, by-law officers, police forces and the province say enforcement will be gentle at first, meaning much of the heavy lifting will fall to businesses' front-line staff.
Bulk of new cases in people not fully vaccinated
Ontario meanwhile reported 574 new cases of COVID-19 and eight more deaths related to the illness on Tuesday.
Of the reported cases today with a known vaccination status:
351, or 61.1 per cent, were found in people who are unvaccinated.
33, or 5.7 per cent, had a single dose.
140, or 24.4 per cent, had two doses.
The seven-day rolling average now stands at 710.
The additional cases reported Tuesday include 104 in Toronto, 80 in Peel, 55 in Ottawa, 44 in York, 34 in Windsor, 31 in Halton, 19 in London and 18 in Hamilton.
Moore said that when it comes to COVID-19 indicators like cases, hospitalization and ICU numbers, Ontario is in a "good position at present.
"Our cases counts remain stable, our hospitalizations are relatively stable," he said.
Moore also said the vast majority of people in ICU with COVID-19 in Ontario are people who haven't been vaccinated, pointing to "a pandemic of unvaccinated people."
Also Tuesday, Moore noted that it has now been two weeks since most Ontario students went back to school.
Moore said the province has recorded 1,046 confirmed COVID-19 cases among students and staff, but with over two million students in Ontario and hundreds of thousands more education workers, that number is "not cause for alarm," he said. Moore also noted that the majority of outbreaks in schools are confined to two to three cases.
"In person learning continues to remain safe," he said.
Here are some other key pandemic indicators and figures from the Ministry of Health's daily provincial update:
Tests completed in the last 24 hours: 23,631.
Provincewide test positivity rate: 2.4 per cent.
Active cases: 6,178.
Patients in ICU with COVID-related illnesses: 179; 130 needed a ventilator to breathe.
Deaths: Eight, pushing the official toll to 9,663.
Vaccinations: 21,434,434 doses have been administered to date. Nearly 85.2 per cent of Ontarians aged 12 years or older have now received at least one dose of a vaccine, while 79.2 per cent have received two doses.
With files from The Canadian Press