Capacity limits for Ontario restaurants, gyms to end as soon as Monday: sources
TORONTO -- Capacity limits on restaurants and gyms in Ontario could be lifted next Monday, as the Ford government considers new measures for establishments that require proof of vaccination certificates, sources say.
CTV News Toronto has learned that Premier Doug Ford met with this cabinet Thursday afternoon to also discuss when to dial back the mandatory masking policies in public settings. Multiple sources pointed to the spring as a potential timeframe to end the mandate, while others say the government intends to slowly pull back public health measures beginning in January.
The government is expected to officially announce the new measures on Friday, along with Dr. Kieran Moore, Ontario’s chief medical officer of health, who has to sign off on the new measures.
Among the considerations, sources say, is a proof of vaccination opt-in option for sectors of the economy that still have capacity limits. Museums for example, could maximize capacity as long they require guests be fully vaccinated.
Ontario has been operating in Step 3 of the province’s reopening plan for more than three months now, which has seen additional indoor services with larger numbers of people become available with restrictions in place. Capacity limits for some settings, including sporting and concert venues, were lifted by the government on Oct. 8, though gyms and restaurants were not included in the policy change—a move which industry leaders said was a disappointment.
Speaking to reporters last week, Premier Doug Ford said the government’s long-term COVID-19 reopening strategy would provide residents and businesses alike with clear guidelines and timelines for what to expect in the months ahead as the province continues to manage the spread of the virus.
He said the plan would also include details of “where and when” the government may need to reapply public health restrictions should they be required to stop a “surge in transmission.”
“The chief medical officer of health has been clear: the objective is to avoid further lockdowns and if additional measures are necessary, they will be localized, tailored and aimed at limiting disruption to businesses and families because this is not just a plan for the short term, but for the long term,” Ford said at the time.
Ontario’s COVID-19 situation has improved in recent months with the province logging fewer and fewer infections each day as vaccination rates inch higher and higher.
In fact, on Wednesday, the province reported 304 new infections, marking the lowest daily case total recorded since the beginning of August.
Friday’s expected announcement comes on the same day that Ontario’s enhanced COVID-19 vaccination QR code certificate goes into effect, which allows fully vaccinated individuals more streamlined access to non-essential settings.
The announcement will be streamed live on CTVNewsToronto.ca and the CTV News app.