Mississauga, Brampton, Hamilton and Ontario businesses can download Verify Ontario app

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Published October 14, 2021 at 5:47 pm

Ontario’s vaccine verification app for businesses, Verify Ontario, is now on the Google and Apple app stores, one day ahead of a Friday announcement about the next moves in the province’s reopening.

The app gives businesses and organizations the ability to scan the QR codes on province-issued vaccine certificates. The Ford government had stated it would release a digital verification app by Oct. 22. Other provinces, such as Quebec, have had a vaccine verification app up and running for several weeks.

After the code is scanned with the Verify Ontario app, a green checkmark will appear indicating a valid vaccine certificate, a red X for an invalid certificate or a yellow warning for a QR that cannot be read.

Ontario residents who had both doses of vaccine will be able to download a QR code from the same site they used to obtain either a print-out or PDF copy of their vaccination. They will still have the option of presenting a hard copy of their verification after Oct. 22. The app description on Google Play also says it will scan most government-issued QR codes from British Columbia or Quebec, with nationwide compatability still in development.

Privacy commissioners in all 13 Canadian provinces and territories were consulted about potential verification apps in the spring. Their points of emphasis was that information from users must not be collected and stored by third parties, and that a verification regime should only be in place for a few months.

Premier Doug Ford and Ontario chief medical officer of health Dr. Kieran Moore are slated to speak at 11 a.m. on Friday about the next steps and timelines in the province’s reopening. Ontario has been in Stage 3 of its Roadmap to Reopen since July 16.

The government announced last week that it was lifting capacity limits for indoor settings such as sports arenas, while continuing to impose them on bars and restaurants, as well as dance and fitness facilities. The juxtaposition has riled small business lobby groups, such as the Canadian Federation of Independent Business.

COVID-19 is an airborne disease. Experts on how it spreads also believe that the government should wait at least three weeks (21 days) after relaxing measures, in order to make sure hospitalizations are not increasing, before it makes another change. In that timeline, the earliest opportunity to safely remove more restrictions would be on Oct. 30.

However, the province’s pattern has usually been to make a move after two to two-and-a-half weeks. For instance, it spent just 19 days in Step 2 in late June and early July.

Ontario reported 417 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, and three deaths from the respiratory virus. Nearly 65 per cent (271) of the new cases were in people who are not vaccinated.

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