Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Wednesday March 2, 2022
Hamilton-area businesses, hospitals and city facilities are dropping proof-of-vaccination today
Businesses, hospitals and city facilities in the Hamilton area are dropping their proof of vaccination policies Tuesday, as Ontario ends most of its major COVID-19 public health measures.
It is no longer required to show evidence of receiving two shots at most restaurants, gyms and movie theaters and nightclubs, while sports arenas and concert venues can also scrap capacity limits, along with other changes.
However, Premier Doug Ford has said masks will likely continue to be required for at least a few more weeks.
Hamilton’s medical officer of health previously said she’s “cautiously optimistic” about Ontario’s plan to ease some COVID-19 restrictions.
But Dr. Elizabeth Richardson said individual employers should still consider how immunization fits in their health and safety approach for staff and patrons.
The City of Hamilton will no longer require visitors to its recreational facilities, museums and the Gage Park tropical greenhouse to show proof of vaccination.
Masks and face coverings are still required, says the city, and businesses are required to post signs near their entrances explaining how customers can screen themselves for symptoms.
St. Catharines is taking a similar approach, discontinuing its proof-of-vaccine requirement at city facilities, though maintaining masking, self-screening and physical distancing.
Burlington is doing the same, ending its requirement to show proof of vaccine, but continuing with mask-wearing, distancing and screening.
Area hospitals are making changes, too.
Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS) has announced, starting Tuesday, it will no longer require caregivers or visitors to show proof of vaccination when they come to hospitals.
That said, everyone who enters its hospitals is still required to screen for symptoms of COVID-19 and to wear PPE during their visit, including, “at a minimum,” a mask.
The hospital system pointed to evidence that COVID-19 is less prevalent in the community, high rates of vaccination and zero outbreaks at its facilities as factors that informed its decision.
The Brant Community Healthcare System is also making the change and no longer requiring vaccine verification for essential care partners (ECP).
It notes other visitor guidelines will still be in place, including inpatients having only one person at their bedside at a time, and a maximum of two designated ECPs. (CBC)