On October 26th, the town of Smiths Falls released details on how it would handle COVID-19 vaccination verification for people using the Memorial Community Centre as of November 1st. At that time it indicated that only an Ontario Ministry of Health issued QR code would be acceptable to confirm vaccination status along with a recognized ID. The QR code could either be in paper format or on a smart-phone display but older style certificates without the code would not be acceptable. All users over the age of 12 must show proof of double vaccination as the province mandated in September.
One of the groups that this caused a concern with was minor hockey. Hometown News spoke with Kori Bigelow secretary of the Smiths Falls Minor Hockey association who called it an unnecessary burden for the town to request something above and beyond what the province recommends and the general practice of other area arenas. She noted that members of her organization had fulfilled all pandemic protocols to the letter and that this move was a last straw. Rick Chesebrough, the town’s fire chief was the signatory on the October 26th release and when contacted, he told Hometown News that the sole use of a QR code and scanner was designed to expedite entry and minimize line-ups and delays. He noted that it provides more security than an uncoded paper copy and is more resistant to fraudulent use.
On Friday October 29th, the town reversed that position with another release which states, “On Oct. 26, 2021 the Town of Smiths Falls issued a media release indicating that a QR code proof of vaccination will be the only proof of vaccination accepted at the community centre. This was intended to streamline entrance procedures and ensure wait times are kept at a minimum for users of the facility. The Town of Smiths Falls recognizes some citizens may be having issues obtaining their QR code for proof of vaccination. As such, the Town of Smiths Falls will continue to accept alternate proof of vaccination (documentation received at the time of vaccination) in addition to the QR code.” It also reminds residents that the town’s library (like others) will help residents access and print off a certificate at no charge.