The Ontario government has announced a sweeping new assortment of public health measures over concerns of a "fourth wave" of COVID-19. The province is officially halting its reopening plan and will require all hospitals, ambulance services and home and community service providers to adopt mandatory vaccination policies.
Vaccine eligibility will also be extended to all children who turn 12 this year, and the province will begin offering third doses of COVID-19 vaccines to vulnerable populations.
Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer Kieran Moore announced the new measures on Tuesday, citing concerns over the spread of the Delta variant and a supposed fourth wave of COVID-19.
"I am sorry to say I think it’s going to be a difficult fall and winter and hence the reason we’re putting these policies in place."
The directive states that all hospitals, ambulance services and home and community service providers must require all employees, staff, contractors, students and volunteers to obtain proof of vaccination no later than Sept 7.
Any individual who remains unvaccinated past this date must either provide a medical exemption or undergo "education sessions" and COVID-19 testing at least once a week.
Dr. Moore further elaborated that organizations may implement even stricter vaccination policies on their own:
"This directive outlines the minimal standard that is expected. Should an organization choose to implement policies that go above and beyond, they will have the authority to do so."
The province also intends to expand the directive further, broadening its scope to include mandatory vaccination policies for all congregate care settings, public school boards, postsecondary institutions and retirement homes. "More information will be made available to these sectors in the coming days and weeks," said Dr. Moore.
Most universities in Ontario have already enacted mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policies for all staff, students and visitors, and the federal government announced last week that it will require vaccinations for federal employees and those working in federally regulated industries such as airlines and railways. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Tuesday that there would be "consequences" for those without medical exemptions who choose to remain unvaccinated, but did not elaborate on what those might be.
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