COVID-19 restrictions in Ontario are expected to change in the coming weeks.
The surge of COVID-19 cases due to the omicron variant pushed the local government to create additional regulations on January 5, 2022. This was done to promote the safety of citizens, prevent further increases in cases, and ensure that the healthcare system does not collapse.
This proved to be beneficial because the COVID-19 situation in the province was managed. The number of cases and hospital and intensive care utilization rates have shown stabilization. Also, the positivity rate is decreasing. It was at 15% when government officials decided to adjust the restrictions.
Christine Elliott, the Health Minister of Ontario, said that the province may soon come near the peak of the number of COVID-19 cases due to the omicron variant. However, this is not enough reason to lift all restrictions. The province should remain cautious to prevent regressing from the progress they have made.
Doug Ford, the current Premier of Ontario, said that “we can be confident that the worst is behind us as we look to cautiously ease public health measures”.
With this, COVID-19 restrictions in Ontario will be gradually reduced in three steps. Each phase will be implemented for 21 days.
Gradual Reduction of COVID-19 Restrictions in Ontario
Step One of the Three-Step Plan
Starting January 21, 2022, the following measures will be implemented:
- Social gatherings conducted indoors can have as many as 10 people, while those conducted outdoors can have up to 25 people.
- Organized public events done indoors can accommodate up to 25 participants
- Indoor public establishments can operate at 50% of their capacity. This involves restaurants, bars, food establishments, gyms, personal fitness training centers, cinemas, event spaces, museums, galleries, aquariums, zoos, casinos, bingo halls, and other similar establishments. Businesses that offer dance facilities and strip clubs are not included.
- Venues for sports, concerts, and theaters can utilize up to 50% of their capacity, or up to 500 people. If there is a difference between the number of individuals that these establishments can accommodate, the lesser value will be applied
Establishments that serve food and drinks can only allow up to 10 people in one table. Customers have to remain on their seats when inside the said establishments. This regulation also applies to nightclubs, restobars, and strip clubs.
Indoor venues for sports, concerts, cinemas, bingo, theaters, horse racing, car racing, and other gaming activities are not allowed to serve food and drinks. Similarly, individuals in such venues should remain on their seats.
Customers cannot sing and dance in restaurants and bars. Only employees or performers are allowed to do so.
Vaccination will still be required for all customers and patrons of the aforementioned establishments.
Step Two of the Three-Step Plan
On February 21, 2022, the following measures will replace those in step one:
- Social gatherings conducted indoors can have as many as 25 people, while those conducted outdoors can have up to 100 people.
- Up to 50 people can participate in organized public events held indoors
- Venues used for watching sports, recreational fitness activities, concerts, and theater performances are not limited to accommodating 500 people anymore. These venues for indoor spectator events can use up to 50% of their capacity, whatever that may be, as long as participants can comply with vaccination requirements
- Restaurants, bars, food and drink establishments, strip clubs, sports and recreational fitness facilities, cinemas, racing venues, event spaces, studio audiences in television shows, casinos, bingo halls, and gaming establishments can use 100% of their capacity. These indoor public areas should also implement vaccination requirements.
- Indoor events done to practice religious beliefs, such as services, rites, and ceremonies, can be held if participants are two meters away from each other, regardless of vaccination status. If vaccination requirements are in place, such events can be held with no limit on the number of participants.
- As long as vaccination is required for participants, 25% of the capacity of the following establishments can be used: nightclubs, wedding reception events places, bathhouses, and sex clubs
- Personal care services, retailers, and shopping malls can operate as long as physical distancing is practiced
- Customers in food and beverage establishments should still remain in their seats when inside
Step Three of the Three-Step Plan
Starting March 14, 2022, many of the COVID-19 restrictions in Ontario will be lifted.
Public settings will not be limited on the number of people they can accommodate. This is also applicable to social gatherings done outdoors. However, for social gatherings done indoors, only 50 people will be allowed.
Religious services, rites, and ceremonies can be held without any limit on the number of people.
Vaccination will remain a requirement in all settings.
The Latest COVID-19 Situation in Ontario
As of January 24, 2022, there were 4,790 new COVID-19 cases reported, while there were 6,924 cases considered recovered. 37 individuals were added to the death count.
The effective reproduction number was 1.29, which is 0.08 lower than the previous week. This provides information on how many people one COVID-19 positive patient will transmit the virus to.
As of January 16, 2022, 78.1% of the population in Ontario has received their 2-dose regimen of the COVID-19 vaccine. Those who have received at least their first dose are at 83.5%.
Citizens and residents have much to look forward to in the coming months. The easing of COVID-19 restrictions in Ontario will benefit establishments and enable individuals to do activities that were once not allowed.