Province lifts capacity limits in restaurants and bars

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Six month plan to end vaccine passports and masks

Ontario will lift all the health measures meant to stop the spread of COVID-19 – including the vaccine passports – in the next six months.

“This is a cautious plan that slowly lifts health measures over time,” Premier Doug Ford said in a news conference Friday.

Starting Monday; Ontario will lift capacity limits most settings where proof of vaccination are required, such as restaurants, bars and other food or drink establishments; indoor areas of sports and recreational facilities such as gyms and where personal physical fitness trainers provide instruction; casinos, bingo halls and other gaming establishments; and indoor meeting and event spaces. Limits will also be lifted in certain outdoor settings.

Other areas can also lift capacity restrictions IF they put in place a proof of vaccination program. That includes;

  • Personal care services (e.g., barber shops, salons, body art);
  • Indoor areas of museums, galleries, aquariums, zoos, science centres, landmarks, historic sites, botanical gardens and similar attractions;
  • Indoor areas of amusement parks;
  • Indoor areas of fairs, rural exhibitions, festivals;
  • Indoor tour and guide services;
  • Boat tours;
  • Indoor areas of marinas and boating clubs;
  • Indoor clubhouses at outdoor recreational amenities;
  • Open house events provided by real estate agencies; and
  • Indoor areas of photography studios and services.

Locations where a wedding, funeral or religious service, rite or ceremony takes place may also implement proof of vaccination requirements for services, rites, or ceremonies at the location.

The province plans to ease up on outdoor gathering limits in time for Remembrance Day and the Christmas season to allow parades.

Capacity limits in what the province calls higher risk locations (listed above) by Nov. 15.

By Jan. 15, the province intends to begin gradually lifting capacity limits in settings where proof of vaccination is not required. The Chief Medical Officer of Health will also lift CMOH directives as appropriate.

Proof of vaccination requirements may also begin to be gradually lifted at this time, including for restaurants, bars and other food and drink establishments, facilities used for sports and recreational facilities and casinos, bingo halls and other gaming establishments.

By Feb. 7, the proof of vaccination certificates will begin to be phased out and by March 28, vaccine passports will not be necessary and mask mandates will be removed. “We said we would not keep them (vaccine passports) in place not one day longer than possible…that’s what this program does,” says Ford.

Scientist suggested earlier this week, the mandates for vaccine passports should stay in place until spring, since indoor activity increases COVID-19 rates. The Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Keiren Moore, agreed, said Jan. 17 is the date they will “review the data” getting through the holiday season to analyze if there has been spread during the holiday season “to make a decision to move forward.”

He adds by March he expects the province will be ready to get rid of mask mandates and vaccine passports since the province will have “increased immunization” so “this virus doesn’t have a host” and children will then be vaccinated.

Ford says the changes come after a lot of “hard work” by Ontarians. “There have to be benefits for all the hard work the people of Ontario have done,” he told reporters adding “if we do not see numbers in a stable place we are not going to do it.”

If the number of COVID-19 cases begins to rise, the province says restrictions like capacity limits and/or physical distancing, reducing gathering limits and adding settings where proof of vaccination is required, could be reintroduced locally by public health units. Provincially, restrictions would only be in place in “exceptional circumstances.”