The numbers of COVID cases in the province and the region are trending downwards, giving way to ease some of the public health measures enacted on January 5. The Ontario government is set to lift some restrictions in the province for indoor dining, gyms, and entertainment venues at the end of the month, although many will remain at 50 per cent capacity until the next 21-day benchmark on February 21.
“With the anticipated loosening of some restrictions in Ontario beginning on January 31, we all need to move forward cautiously to protect our progress and avoid going backwards,” said medical officer of health Dr. Hsiu-Li Wang during the region’s weekly pandemic briefing last Friday.
Social gathering limits will increase at the end of the month to 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors.
“The evidence tells us that the measures we put in place to blunt transmission of Omicron are working,” said Premier Doug Ford in a statement. “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.”
As of midnight on January 31, Ontario will again begin lifting restrictions for indoor public settings. Sporting events, concert venues and theatres will reopen at 50 per cent capacity or 500 people in attendance, whichever is less.
“Thanks to the efforts of Ontarians going out to get their booster dose and adhering to current public health and workplace safety measures, we are in a position where we can begin planning to gradually and cautiously ease restrictions,” said Dr. Kieran Moore, chief medical officer of health for Ontario, in a release.
On February 21, if public health deems it is safe to do so, Ontario will move into increasing capacity limits indoors to 100 per cent unless it is a sporting event or concert venue, which will remain at 50 per cent capacity. Nightclubs, weddings, and other places with dancing will reopen at 25 per cent capacity.
“The months ahead will require continued vigilance, as we don’t want to cause any further disruption to people’s everyday lives. We must continue to prevent the transmission of COVID-19 in our communities by following the measures in place and by vaccinating those who have not yet received their doses,” said Moore.
If Ontario’s numbers continue to go down, 21 days after that, on March 14, the province will reopen almost fully with social gatherings indoors limited to 50 people and no restrictions on outdoor events.
“The threat of COVID-19 is still significant in our community, particularly to vulnerable residents, unvaccinated residents and our healthcare system. However, there is also hope on the horizon, thank you to all the residents who have been and are continuing to get vaccinated as we blunt the impact of the Omicron variant. The next few weeks remain critical,” said regional Chair Karen Redman during the briefing. “Continue to check on family members, neighbours, and loved ones and continue to be kind to frontline members of our community. We’re all in this together and we will get through this together.”
Proof of vaccination, via a QR code will still be mandatory as well as other public health measures as the province eases restrictions.