Ontario pauses next step of reopening plan as COVID-19 cases increase
Ontario is pausing the next step of the reopening plan after an increase in COVID-19 cases.
On Nov. 15, capacity limits were supposed to be lifted in remaining high-risk settings where proof of vaccination is required.
That step has been delayed at least 28 days, the province said Wednesday.
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 said that while Ontario's hospital and intensive care capacity remains stable, certain public health trends, including the effective reproduction number and percent positivity, have increased slightly over the past week.
Ontario's rolling seven-day average of COVID-19 cases now stands at 502, up from 379 at this point last week.
Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Kieran Moore said Wednesday Ontario is pausing the reopening plan "out of an abundance of caution."
"To ensure we maintain our progress, it is necessary to make this deliberate pause," Moore said.
Moore said while he expects cases to keep rising in Ontario, he does not think the province will need to reintroduce restrictions on a provincial level.
"Honestly, I do not see us stepping backwards," Moore said. "If we have to, we'll pause, but we won't take a step backwards."
Moore said if any additional restrictions are needed, they will be brought in on a regional basis.
"This battle against this fast, furious, foe will be fought at a regional level."