Province releases plan to lift public health measures

A server takes an order inside of a restaurant. File photo courtesy of © Can Stock Photo / JackF

The Ontario government has released a time frame for lifting public health measures, starting with those at restaurants, gyms, and casinos.

Starting Monday, October 25, places that require proof of vaccination, like restaurants, gyms, and casinos will no longer have to follow distancing or capacity limitations.

This does not include places like nightclubs, strip clubs, or wedding receptions where dancing is permitted. These facilities will continue to have capacity limits until November 15, 2021.

“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 Premier Doug Ford. “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.”

Other public health measures, like requiring proof of vaccination and masking, could be lifted after the holidays if public health indicators remain stable.

“We are 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. “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.”

After assessing health indicators throughout the province, the province may consider lifting capacity limits at places where vaccinations are not required by January 17, 2022. Proof of vaccination requirements may also be lifted around this time.

The government also announced remaining public health measures like masks and workplace safety measures could be lifted by March 28. This is assuming public health indicators are good and no new vaccine-resistant COVID-19 variant is introduced in the province.

“By March, we hope we’ve maximized our immunization strategy in Ontario, that we have more Ontarians immunized to the point that this virus doesn’t have a host in which it can reproduce,” said Dr. Moore. “Our third dose strategies will be completed, our immunization strategy for children aged 5-11 will have been completed and we’ll have a very good point to be able to look at the data to review a safe reopening for all of Ontario.”

Dr. Moore said at that point people in the province will have to learn with the virus.