Windsor-Essex public health CEO asks for patience as vaccine passport program rolls out

As Ontario's vaccine certification program kicks off on Wednesday, WECHU health officials are asking residents to show patience as the pieces are put in place. The health unit also reports an increase of 50 new cases of COVID-19 and one new death.

Health unit reports 50 new cases, 1 new death

Nicole Dupuis, CEO of the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit, appears in a file photo. (Amy Dodge/CBC)

Ontario's vaccination verification program officially launched on Wednesday, requiring all individuals to show proof of full vaccination when entering non-essential venues across the province. 

According to a media release, Ontarians need to be fully vaccinated (two doses plus 14 days) and provide their proof along with photo ID to access certain public settings and facilities such as all gyms, indoor restaurant dining, fitness facilities and movie theatres. Doctor's notes for medical exemptions will also be accepted.

During a COVID-19 briefing held by the Windsor Essex County Health Unit, Nicole Dupuis, CEO of the health unit, asked Windsor-Essex residents to be patient. 

"I know there are a lot of pieces that need to be put in place," Dupuis said. 

"For our businesses that are implementing the vaccination verification, it is a big change, so just be patient with everyone."

Fines for non-compliance

For enforcement of the vaccine certificates, the initial onus is on businesses to make the checks. Earlier this month, the province released guidelines for businesses. 

For business that do not comply or for patrons who give false information, fines will be imposed. 

Dupuis said failure to comply with the rules will result in fines under the Reopening Ontario Act. Individuals will be fined $750 for non-compliance whereas businesses will be fined $1,000. Fines can reach a maximum of $100,000 and up to a year in jail for an individual; up to $500,000 and up to a year in jail for an individual.

She said all provincial offences officers have the ability to enforce the rules and regulations but education for businesses and residents on the rules will be a priority. 

This week, the health unit will work with provincial partners on an enforcement blitz. 

"We always strive for education first," she said. "With any new change or requirement, we always strive for education first. That's always our first step."

The health unit has reported an increase of 50 new COVID-19 cases in Windsor-Essex on Wednesday, bringing the total number of cases to 19,408. 

50 new cases, one death

Among the new cases, 22 were acquired from a close contact of a confirmed case, eight cases were from community spread, two cases are travel related and 18 cases are under investigation.

A woman in her 80s has died due to COVID-19.

The total number of deaths in Windsor-Essex is 451. 

Twenty-two people are currently in hospital.

The region currently has 347 active cases — 212 active cases are linked to variants of concern. 

20 outbreaks

In Windsor-Essex, one community outbreak has been identified at The Salvation Army. The Berkshire Care Centre, a long-term care facility, also has an ongoing outbreak.

Five schools have declared outbreaks with links to the delta variant. 

The remaining 13 outbreaks are all connected to workplaces:

  • Seven workplaces in the agricultural sector.
  • Three workplaces in the health care and social assistance sector.
  • Two workplaces in the manufacturing sector.
  • One workplace in the fitness and recreational sports centres sector.

Chatham-Kent, Sarnia-Lambton

There are 16 new cases and 107 active cases in Chatham-Kent. One new outbreak has been declared, with a total of four in the municipality.

In Sarnia-Lambton, five new cases were reported with a total of 53 active cases. There is one active outbreak in the region. 

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