Province lays out three phase reopening plan
Ontario will start “cautiously” easing public health measures starting at the end of the month.
On Thursday, Premier Doug Ford laid out a three-phase plan with at least 21 days in between each stage. The announcement comes one day after Minister of Health Christine Elliott outlined positive trends in the health care system that signalled this latest phase would peak at the end of the month.
“The evidence tells us that the measures we put in place to blunt transmission of Omicron are working,” said Ford. “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.”
Starting on January 31, all indoor public settings like restaurants, gyms, casinos, and retail establishments will be able to reopen at 50 per cent capacity. Theatres, concert venues, and sports venues with spectators will also be allowed 50 per cent capacity or 500 people whichever is less. Higher risk settings like nightclubs, wedding receptions in meeting or event spaces where there is dancing, as well as bathhouses and sex clubs will remain closed.
Social gatherings will be limited to 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors.
Proof of vaccination in these settings will still be required.
If positive trends continue and health system indicators remain stable, phase 2 of reopening will begin on February 21. Social gathering limits will increase to 25 people indoors and 100 people outdoors.
All capacity limits will be lifted in indoor public settings where proof of vaccination is required. Spectator capacity at sporting events, concert venues, and theatres will be increased to 50 per cent. Higher risk indoor settings like nightclubs and wedding receptions will be allowed to operate at 25 per cent capacity.
On March 14, capacity limits will be lifted at all indoor public settings, however, proof of vaccination will still be required. Social gatherings will be limited to 50 people indoors with no limits outdoors.
The plan does not indicate when vaccination mandates will be lifted for public settings despite plans laid out in October stating vaccination mandates would no longer be required by this time. The plan also does not indicate when mask mandates could be lifted.
“We’re not out of the woods yet, but we’re taking a cautious approach to move forward and I’m confident that we’re going to move forward cautiously and get things back to normal as quickly as possible,” said Ford.