Ontario Premier Doug Ford says the province will begin gradually easing its pandemic health restrictions on January 31, when restaurants will be allowed to reopen for indoor dining, but at 50 percent of their normal capacity. Further easing of public-health rules will be issued in late February, with most capacity limits lifted by mid-March, according to plans released on Thursday.
From January 31 at 12:01 p.m., Ontario will limit its social gathering to 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors, while opening restaurants and bars without dance floors and other similar businesses at 50 percent capacity. will allow.
Retailers including malls, sports facilities and gyms, cinemas, meeting and event spaces, amusement parks and museums, casinos and religious services with groceries and pharmacies will also be allowed to reopen with a 50 per cent capacity limit.
Large venues such as hockey arenas, concert venues and theaters can operate at 50 percent capacity or 500 people, whichever is less. The vaccine-passport system of the province remains the same.
On February 21, Ontario says it plans to increase the limit for gatherings to 25 people indoors and 100 people, while removing capacity limits at restaurants, bars and all other locations, including proof-of-stake. Vaccination is required. Large sports fields, concert venues and theaters will then be allowed at 50 per cent capacity. Other places where vaccine passports are not required will still face capacity limits to allow physical distancing of two metres. High risk settings such as nightclubs or wedding receptions will face a 25 percent capacity limit.
By March 14, Ontario says it hopes to lift most of the remaining indoor capacity limits, with its proof-of-vaccination system in place. Indoor social gathering limits will reach 50 people indoors, with no limit for outdoor gatherings.
The government says a slow growth in hospitals and the proportion of COVID-19 tests returning positive suggest that the restrictions are working and may be eased in the coming weeks.
“The evidence tells us that the measures we have taken to blunt the transmission of Omicron are working,” Premier Doug Ford said in a news release. “We can be confident that the worst is behind us and we are now in a position to carefully and gradually ease public health measures. While February will continue to present its challenges, given the current trends these are challenges we are confident we can manage.
The reopening would come nearly a month after Mr Ford closed restaurants and canceled non-emergency surgeries as a wave of the highly permeable Omicron version of COVID-19 threatened to swamp hospitals and overwhelm the health system. After a two-week delay, students in Ontario went back to school this week, although some boards, including Toronto, were forced to postpone the return for a few more days due to a heavy blizzard.
Ontario’s new day of reopening, January 31, is five days after the original date set by Mr Ford for this latest round of limited public health measures. The premier and their chief medical officer of health, Kieran Moore, said they needed to blunt Omicron’s rapid growth and vaccinate more children and more adults to get the booster shots they need to better deal with the virus. Time needed to be given.
While health officials have said hospitalizations and ICU admissions have slowed, hospitals in the province remain tense. Ontario still has 4,061 people with COVID-19 in hospitals, more than in any previous wave of the pandemic. It also had 594 patients in intensive-care units with the virus, just shy of the previous pandemic record of nearly 900. Hospitals are under extreme stress and many are short staffed, or operating at capacity, with many workers forced to isolate. For disease, exposure or positive tests.
The level of daily deaths not seen since previous waves continues to rise. Ontario recorded 75 COVID-19 deaths on Thursday, although it said the higher total was due to data cleaning and that these deaths had occurred in the past 19 days. Ontario reported 59 new deaths the day before. In a statement earlier on Thursday, Alexandra Hilken, a spokeswoman for Health Minister Christine Elliott, said the province was looking into whether it should distinguish between “accidental and accidental deaths related to COVID-19”, such as People in palliative care who die from other causes but test positive for the virus.
Mr Ford said in talk-radio appearances and brief remarks in front of TV cameras this week that he expected to announce “positive” news soon for restaurants and other businesses. On Wednesday, his health minister had said he saw a “glint of hope” in the slowing pace of increase in hospitalization and intensive care numbers on Wednesday.
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