Toronto Ontario lifts nearly all major COVID-19 restrictions
Ontario lifted nearly all of its COVID-19 restrictions Wednesday, bringing the province the closest it’s been to a pre-pandemic state since spring 2020.
Effective Wednesday, Ontario has lifted its requirement to implement proof of vaccination programs in indoor non-essential settings.Capacity limits in all other indoor public settings have also been lifted.
Masking requirements remain in place.While the Ontario government hasn’t set a date for when mask mandates will be lifted, Premier Doug Ford said Monday that the province “isn’t far away” from removing the restrictions.
Vaccine requirements in industries such as long-term care and health care remain in place for now.
The province has also said that businesses are permitted to keep their proof of vaccination requirements in place if they so choose — something that some Ontario businesses have already expressed interest in doing .
After the Omicron variant hit Ontario, resulting in another wave of strict public health measures, the province began reopening in late January, allowing gyms and indoor dining to resume at 50 per cent capacity.
Each part of the province’s three-step plan was supposed to be separated by at least 21 days in order for the province to monitor public health trends.However, the province announced an expedited timeline in early February , a move that would see Ontario almost fully reopened fourteen days earlier.
Ontario moved to the second phase of the plan on Feb.
17, which saw social gathering limits increase to 50 people indoors and 100 people outdoors.
Capacity limits in settings where proof of vaccination is required were also lifted.
Venues that host sporting events or concerts were allowed 50 per cent seating capacity while indoor weddings, funerals or other religious services were capped at however many people could fit with physical distancing in place.‘OMICRON IS NOT OVER’
While speaking to CP24 Tonight on Monday evening, Director of the Ontario COVID-19 Science Advisory Table, Dr.Peter Jüni, said that while “Omicron is not over,” he believes that lifting the two-dose vaccine passport system will not impact local transmission rates.
In order to lower transmission rates, Jüni said he believes a proof of vaccination requirement would need to operate on a three-dose system, but that would be “too challenging for pragmatic reasons.”
“Therefore, it’s completely okay to lift [the two-dose proof of vaccination requirement] now,” he said.“It won’t make much of a difference transmission-wise.”
Jüni added, however, that Ontarians should prepare for a circumstance in which a proof of vaccination system — this time, requiring three doses as a full course of vaccination — may need to be reintroduced across the province, stating there “will be another wave of infection sooner or later and then we might need to reintroduce certificates”
Jüni on CP24 Tonight Monday evening was Niagara Region’s Medical Officer of Health, Dr.Mustafa Hirji, who spoke on mask mandates.
Hirji said he was “extremely uncomfortable” with the prospect of lifting the masking requirements in Ontario.
“There’s still a lot of infection going around, there’s quite a substantial risk out there,” Hirji said.“I think taking away masks, which really don’t impede economic activity, is a very bad decision at this point.”
On Monday, Ontario reported 849 people in hospital with COVID-19 .The number of hospitalizations and ICU admissions due to COVID-19 has been declining across the province for weeks now.
With files from Katherine DeClerq..