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Restaurants, theatres and gyms will reopen in Ontario at 50 per cent capacity at the end of the month.
Premier Doug Ford made the announcement at a news conference on Thursday alongside Health Minister Christine Elliott and Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Kieran Moore.
“The evidence tells us that the measures we put in place to blunt transmission of Omicron are working,” Ford said in a news release.
“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.”
As of 12:01 a.m. on Jan. 31, Ontario will increase or maintain capacity limits at 50 per cent in indoor public settings, including restaurants, bars, retailers, shopping malls, gyms, and cinemas. Spectator areas of facilities such as sporting events, concert venues and theatres will be allowed to be filled at 50 per cent seated capacity or 500 people, whichever is less.
As well, social gathering limits will increase to 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors.
The province added that “enhanced proof of vaccination, and other requirements would continue to apply in existing settings.”
The government plans to ease additional public health measures on Feb. 21, which includes the removal of capacity limits in indoor public settings where proof of vaccination is required, such as restaurants, indoor sports and recreational facilities and cinemas. Spectator areas at sporting events, concert venues and theatres will be capped at 50 per cent.
Social gathering limits will then increase to 25 people indoors and 100 people outdoors.
As well, indoor capacity limits at remaining high-risk settings where proof of vaccination is required, including wedding receptions and nightclubs, will increase to 25 per cent.
On March 14, the province said it plans to lift capacity limits in all indoor public settings where proof of vaccination is required. Social gathering limits will then increase to 50 people indoors and no limits will be set for outdoor gatherings.
On Wednesday, Elliott said that Omicron cases in the province are expected to peak this month and hospitalizations and intensive care unit (ICU) admissions will follow.
“The months ahead will require continued vigilance, as we don’t want to cause any further disruption to people’s everyday lives,” Moore said in a news release Thursday.
“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.”
The province banned indoor dining and closed gyms in early January while temporarily moving schools to remote learning. Schools across the province reopened earlier this week.
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