Capacity limits at restaurants, gyms and casinos are lifting in Ontario next week.
Premier Doug Ford has unveiled his plan to lift COVID-19 public health restrictions by March 2022. He was joined by Minister of Health Christine Elliott, Associate Minister of Digital Government Kaleed Rasheed and chief medical officer of health Dr. Kieran Moore.
Ford said the cautious plan slowly lifts public health measures and does everything to avoid broad lockdowns.
Since Sept. 22, proof of vaccination has been required to access high-risk indoor public spaces that are not essential. Capacity limits on some of those spaces were lifted recently.
Today, the enhanced vaccine certificate featuring a QR code went into effect. While it allows places to easily scan the code, people can still use their second-dose vaccine receipt as proof of vaccination.
“Thanks to our cautious and careful approach to re-opening, we are now in position to gradually lift all remaining public health measures over the coming months,” said Ford in a news release.
“This plan is built for the long term. It will guide us safely through the winter and out of this pandemic, while avoiding lockdowns and ensuring we don’t lose the hard-fought gains we have made.”
Here’s what you need to know about the new plan:
Monday, Oct, 25
Capacity limits are lifting at restaurants, bars, gyms, casinos, bingo halls and other gaming establishments and indoor meeting and event spaces.
The province will also allow other settings to lift capacity limits and physical distancing requirements at other locations if they choose to opt-in to proof of vaccination.
Settings eligible for that include:
- Personal care services (e.g., barber shops, salons, body art);
- Indoor areas of museums, galleries, aquariums, zoos, science centres, landmarks, historic sites, botanical gardens and similar attractions;
- Indoor areas of amusement parks;
- Indoor areas of fairs, rural exhibitions, festivals;
- Indoor tour and guide services;
- Boat tours;
- Indoor areas of marinas and boating clubs;
- Indoor clubhouses at outdoor recreational amenities;
- Open house events provided by real estate agencies; and
- Indoor areas of photography studios and services.
Greater capacity limits are also being looked at for organized public events such as Remembrance Day ceremonies and Santa Claus parades.
Capacity limits lifted in the remaining high-risk settings requiring proof of vaccination. This includes drink establishments with dance facilities such as night clubs or wedding receptions in event spaces where there is dancing, strip clubs, bathhouses and sex clubs.
Jan. 17, 2022
Capacity limits could be gradually lifted in settings where proof of vaccination is not required. The chief medical officer of health will also lift his directives as appropriate. This depends on the public health and health care trends at this time.
This is also when proof of vaccination requirements may start to gradually lift, including for restaurants, bars and other food and drink establishments, facilities used for sports and recreational facilities and casinos, bingo halls and other gaming establishments.
Feb. 7, 2022
Proof of vaccination requirements could be lifted for high-risk settings such as night clubs, strip clubs, bathhouses and sex clubs.
March 28, 2022
The remaining public health and workplace safety measures could be lifted, including masks. The government says recommendations may be released for specific settings where appropriate.
Proof of vaccination will be lifted for remaining settings such as meeting and event spaces, sporting events, concerts, theatres and cinemas, racing venues and commercial and film productions with studio audiences.
Over the long term, today's announcement says public health units will deploy local and regional responses based on local context.
The measures that may be applied include capacity limits, physical distancing, reducing gathering limits or proof of vaccination in certain settings.
"Public health measures would be implemented provincially in exceptional circumstances, such as when the province’s health system capacity is at risk of becoming overwhelmed or if a vaccine resistant COVID-19 variant is identified in the province," reads the news release.