Ontario is extending its pause indefinitely on moving to the next step of the reopening plan as COVID-19 cases continue to increase.

On Nov. 15, capacity limits were supposed to be lifted in remaining high-risk settings where proof of vaccination is required. 

That was delayed at least 28 days on Nov. 10 due to an increase in cases. 

On Tuesday, the government announced the pause would continue in order to monitor trends in public health and learn more about the Omicron variant. 

No date has been given for when lifting these restrictions will be reassessed. 

These higher-risk settings include:

  • Food or drink establishments with dance facilities such as night clubs and wedding receptions in meeting/event spaces where there is dancing
  • Strip clubs
  • Sex clubs and bathhouses

The restrictions currently in place limit nightclubs and bathhouses to 25 per cent capacity or 250 patrons, whichever is less.

At strip clubs, there is no set capacity limit, but establishments must ensure there is physical distancing of at least two metres between groups.

No other changes to the reopening plan have been made at this time.

Health officials have warned for weeks that cases would increase in the winter months as more people gather indoors. 

New modelling data released Tuesday morning suggests that COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in Ontario will continue to rise substantially, even without the Omicron variant.

The data shows that even without spread from the new Omicron variant, intensive care unit occupancy will likely grow to 250-400 beds in January, putting hospitals under strain again.

They also noted that the spread of the Omicron variant will likely drive COVID-19 cases above their current projections.

Ontario's seven-day average of daily new cases is up to 940, a level not seen since the decline of the third wave in early June.