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Will Canadians need to disclose COVID-19 vaccination status to access businesses?

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WATCH ABOVE: As more Canadians get first and second shots of COVID-19 vaccines, now what? Will employers and businesses expect you to disclose your status as a condition of employment or to get through the front door? Sean O’Shea reports on that – Jun 22, 2021

As more of us get one shot of a COVID-19 vaccine and then two, it begs the question: will people have to start disclosing their vaccination status to access businesses?

Toronto resident Alex Rice told Global News he’s ready to share his vaccination status to get into a restaurant or a medical office. And he said others should prepare to do the same.

“It’s part of keeping us all safe; we need to know who has it and who does not,” Rice said.

Read more: Experts say Ontario’s fractured vaccine booking system is complex but gets job done

Employment lawyer Stan Fainzilberg predicts the questions will likely come in one form or another.

“I think there is going to be some standard to ask that question. That does seem to be the way the wind is blowing,” said Fainzilberg, a partner at Samfiru Tumarkin LLP.

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Since the pandemic started, customers have been asked screening questions before entering businesses or health care settings. The vaccination question may be an extension.

“I can see a very clear connection between the questions asked in the screening process and potential to ask ‘are you vaccinated,'” said Fainzilberg.

Restaurants were required to get clients’ names and email addresses for contact tracing purposes when patio and indoor restaurant dining resumed last year. However, their lobby organization isn’t anxious for operators to be required to ask patrons another, potentially more personal, question.

If it’s a requirement to reopen fully, however, they will.

READ MORE: Pfizer or Moderna? ‘There’s no better or worse,’ Ontario’s COVID-19 science chief says

“They’ll do whatever they have to get reopened, they just want to get reopened at this point,” said James Rilett, vice president of Restaurants Canada.

Toronto tech startup founder Erin Bury, the CEO of Willful, an online will-preparation platform, told Global News there are no clear standards to follow on the question of whether to ask vendors and visitors their vaccination status.

“For any non-employees coming into our workspace we’re going to err on the side of caution,” said Bury, who said that will likely mean asking if the person has been fully vaccinated.

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Read more: Ontarians who received COVID-19 vaccine out-of-province should register info with local health units

At the moment, employees at Willful are working from home, a practice she said is unlikely to change much even as other downtown companies start to move back into office spaces that were vacated in March of 2020 at the onset of the pandemic.

“People don’t want to go back five days a week. I don’t want to go back five days a week, and it’s my company,” said Bury, adding, her firm will likely limit the number of employees who can return to the office until 2022.

Fainzilberg said finding the right solution on the vaccination question will be a balancing act.

“An individual has certain rights to not be discriminated against. At the same time, people should feel safe in their workplace.”

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