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Ontario to begin easing restrictions on January 31st

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It’s the news we’ve all wanted to hear, Ontario will begin a “gradual and cautious” reopening of the economy on January 31st.

At the end of this month, restaurants can reopen to in-person dining at 50 per cent capacity.  Gyms can also reopen to half of their capacity limits.  Proof of vaccination using the QR code will still be required.

For retail stores, including grocery stores and pharmacies 50 per cent capacity limits will be in place.

Fans will also be allowed back in the stands at sporting events, concerts, and theatres but only at 50 per cent or 500 people in seats whichever is less.

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Social gathering limits will increase to 10 people inside and 25 people outside.

Premier Doug Ford says improving public health indicators is the reason behind the gradual reopening, “The evidence tells us that the measures we put in place to blunt transmission of Omicron are working. We can be confident that the worst is behind us and that we are now in a position to cautiously and gradually ease public health measures. While February will continue to present its own challenges, given current trends these are challenges we are confident we can manage. I want to be clear we aren’t out of the woods yet.”

Masking and proof of vaccination will continue to be a part of everyday life for the foreseeable future despite Ford promising they would be lifted as soon as possible.  He said he made that promise before the Omicron variant wave.

The gradual reopening means every 21 days public health restrictions will be relaxed barring any concerning public health trends like a spike in cases or hospital capacity.

On January 31st at 12:01 am here are the new restrictions:

  • Increasing social gathering limits to 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors.
  • Increasing or maintaining capacity limits at 50 per cent in indoor public settings, including but not limited to:

o Restaurants, bars, and other food or drink establishments without dance facilities;

o Retailers (including grocery stores and pharmacies)

o Shopping malls;

o Non-spectator areas of sports and recreational fitness facilities, including gyms;

o Cinemas;

o Meeting and event spaces;

o Recreational amenities and amusement parks, including water parks;

o Museums,     galleries,   aquariums, zoos, and similar attractions; and  Casinos, bingo halls,                and other gaming establishments

o Religious services, rites, or ceremonies.

  • Allowing spectator areas of facilities such as sporting events, concert venues, and theatres to operate at 50 per cent seated capacity or 500 people, whichever is less.

Effective February 21, 2022, Ontario will lift public health measures, including:

  • Increasing social gathering limits to 25 people indoors and 100 people outdoors.
  • Removing capacity limits in indoor public settings where proof of vaccination is required, including but not limited to restaurants, indoor sports, and recreational facilities, cinemas, as well as other settings that choose to opt-in to proof of vaccination requirements.
  • Permitting spectator capacity at sporting events, concert venues, and theatres at 50 per cent capacity.
  • Limiting capacity in most remaining indoor public settings where proof of vaccination is not required to the number of people that can maintain two metres of physical distance.
  • Indoor religious services, rites, or ceremonies limited to the number that can maintain two metres of physical distance, with no limit if proof of vaccination is required.
  • Increasing indoor capacity limits to 25 per cent in the remaining higher-risk settings where proof of vaccination is required, including nightclubs, wedding receptions in meeting or event spaces where there is dancing, as well as bathhouses and sex clubs.

Effective March 14, 2022, Ontario will take additional steps to ease public health measures, including:

  • Lifting capacity limits in all indoor public settings. Proof of vaccination will be maintained in existing settings in addition to other regular measures.
  • Lifting remaining capacity limits on religious services, rites, or ceremonies.
  • Increase social gathering limits to 50 people indoors with no limits for outdoor gatherings.

As has always been the case, local and regional Public Health Units will have the ability to enforce tighter restrictions if they see fit.

 

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