By Nicole Di Tomasso
TORONTO — Starting today, restaurants, bars and fitness centres, casinos and indoor meeting and event spaces in Ontario can begin welcoming back more customers after the easing of COVID-19 capacity limits and physical-distancing measures was announced on Friday.
The Ontario government also released A Plan to Safely Re-open Ontario and Manage COVID-19 for the Long-Term, which outlines the province’s gradual approach to lifting the remaining public-health and workplace-safety measures by March 2022.
According to the re-opening plan, the government plans to lift capacity limits in the remaining higher-risk settings where proof of vaccination is required, such as night clubs, by Nov. 15, 2021. Then, by Jan. 17, 2022, the province intends to begin gradually lifting capacity limits in settings where proof of vaccination is not required, such as places of worship. Proof-of-vaccination requirements may also begin to be gradually lifted at this time. By Feb. 7, 2022, proof-of-vaccination requirements in higher-risk settings will be lifted and finally, by Mar. 28, 2022, remaining public-health measures, including wearing face coverings in indoor public settings and providing proof of vaccination at establishments will be lifted.
“Thanks to our cautious and careful approach to re-opening, we’re now in position to gradually lift all remaining public-health measures over the coming months,” said Premier Doug Ford in a press 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.”
“We’re now in a position where we can see the proposed plan for lifting the remaining public-health and workplace-safety measures in Ontario,” said Dr. Kieran Moore, Chief Medical Officer of Health in a press release. “The months ahead will require continued vigilance, as we don’t want to cause anymore unnecessary disruption to people’s everyday lives. We must continue to prevent the transmission of COVID-19 in our communities by following the public health measures in place and by vaccinating those who have not yet received their shots. Ontario has the infrastructure in place to manage outbreaks, including a high-volume capacity for testing, and people to perform fast and effective case and contact management when needed.”