Ontarians will be allowed to eat at sporting events on Monday, will not need to provide contact information
Ontario has released more details about what individuals should expect when the province moves to the first step of the latest reopening plan, which will see indoor dining return and establishments like movie theatres and sporting venues operate at 50 per cent capacity.
In new regulations approved Thursday afternoon, the government specified that individuals attending indoor events at a sporting or concert venue, a movie theatre, or other gaming establishments will be allowed to eat and drink, as long as they remain seated.
The new regulations can be considered good news for places such as movie theatres, who said they were disappointed to hear earlier in the week that popcorn would be banned in cinemas to reduce transmission during the opening.
These venues must still screen patrons prior to allowing entry; however the government has said that most businesses will no longer need to collect information for contact tracing.
“This is aligned with recent changes to the testing and case and contact management guidance and will allow businesses to focus their efforts on the enforcement of other public health measures in these settings, such as masking requirement,” officials said in a statement.
The province is also removing the legal requirement to work from home except where necessary, although Ontario’s chief medical officer of health recommends that those who are able to work from home continue to do so.
Dr. Kieran Moore reiterated this fact at a news conference on Thursday afternoon, saying that individual case management is no longer beneficial based on the vast community spread of Omicron.
"You have to take personal responsibility based on symptoms, knowing when to access health-care systems and (rapid antigen tests)," Moore said. “We have to learn as a society to live with this virus, live with the risk.”
Officials also offered clarification on capacity limits, saying that the 50 per cent limit applies to rooms within a facility as opposed to the number of people who can fit in the building as a whole.
For religious ceremonies and services, capacity restrictions have changed to allow as many people as can fit in the space while remaining physically distant. The province said those responsible for indoor weddings, funerals or other religious services “may elect to require attendees to provide proof of identification and of being fully vaccinated against COVID-19.”
These new regulations come into effect on Jan. 31 as the province enters the first of three reopening stages.
On Monday, movie theatres, meeting rooms and event spaces will be able to operate with 50 per cent capacity indoors. The same goes for indoor restaurants, bars, retailers, museums, and religious services.
- FULL LIST: What’s reopening in Ontario and when
Spectators will once again return to sporting events and concert venues at 50 per cent capacity or 500 people, whichever is less.
However, social gathering limits will remain more restricted, with 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors.
The government plans to lift further restrictions on Feb. 21, however Ford said that if public health trends have not improved the government “won’t hesitate” to pause between steps “for a few extra days.”
Dr. Peter Juni, the scientific director of Ontario’s COVID-19 Science Advisory Table, told CTV News the province needs to carefully monitor hospitalizations as it reopens, especially considering the fact that many residents have still not gotten their booster shots.
“We see now ways that our third dose rollout has fallen asleep a bit, which worries me a lot,” he said. “e have less than half a million third doses per week, that's far too little, may need to make it to you know, nine million at least by the end of February and we are far away from that.”
“And then we have the additional reopening and we just should expect that our hospital numbers and ICU numbers could go up a bit again.”
ONTARIO TO BEGIN RESUMING NON-URGENT SURGERIES
The province also said that it will be taking a “phased approach” to resume some health services that were paused earlier this month.
This includes non-urgent surgeries and procedures in pediatrics, diagnostic services, cancer screeings, some ambulatory clinics, private hospitals, and independent health facilities.
However, officials warned that not all hospitals will immediately resume these procedures and that “hospitals will need to meet certain criteria.”
Very few details were released regarding what those criteria are, however officials said in a statement that it would be based on “local context and conditions.”
With files from CTV News Toronto's Colin D'Mello
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