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Ontario to begin easing COVID-19 restrictions on Jan. 31, with plan to lift most measures by mid-March

Premier Doug Ford announced coming changes Thursday morning

Doug Ford takes off his mask before speaking at a press briefing.

Premier Doug Ford is joined by Minister of Health Christine Elliott and Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Kieran Moore to make an announcement on his government's plan to begin lifting COVID-19 public health measures in the province.

Photo: La Presse canadienne / Chris Young

RCI

Ontario will begin easing COVID-19 public health restrictions at the end of January, the government said Thursday, with a plan to lift most remaining measures by mid-March.

Starting Jan. 31, a host of indoor settings will be able to reopen to the public with 50 per cent capacity limits, including:

  • Restaurants, bars and other food establishments without dancing.
  • Retailers, including shopping malls.
  • Gyms and non-spectator areas of sports facilities.
  • Movie theatres.
  • Meeting and event spaces.
  • Museums, galleries, aquariums, zoos and similar attractions.
  • Casinos, bingo halls and other gaming establishments.
  • Religious services, rites and ceremonies.

Spectator areas of things like arenas and concert venues will also be open at 50 per cent capacity or up to 500 people, whichever is less, the government said in a news release.

Enhanced proof of vaccination and masking requirements will remain in place.

Moreover, indoor social gatherings of up to 10 people and outdoors gatherings of up to 25 will be permitted. 

Then on Feb. 21, social gathering limits will increase to 25 for indoors and 100 people outdoors. Other planned changes include:

  • Removing capacity on all indoor spaces where proof of vaccination is required. 
  • Allowing spectator capacity of up to 50 per cent at sports, concert and other similar venues. 
  • Limiting capacity in most other indoor spaces where proof of vaccination is not required to the number of people who can maintain a physical distance of two metres.
  • Increasing indoor capacity limits to 25 per cent for remaining "high-risk settings" where proof of vaccination is required, such as nightclubs, wedding receptions in event spaces with dancing, as well as bathhouses and sex clubs.

Finally on March 14, according to the government, all capacity limits on indoor spaces will be lifted. Proof of vaccination requirements will remain in place where they already exist.

Further, all capacity limits will be lifted for religious services, rites and ceremonies, and social gatherings of up to 50 people indoors will be permitted, with no limit for outdoors.

More to come.

CBC News with files from Radio-Canada

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