Ontario has revealed its long-term plans for reopening the province after months of lockdowns and strict public health measures to control the spread of COVID-19.
The province announced a path forward to gradually and cautiously ease all COVID-19 restrictions, releasing today a plan to lift all public health measures over the course of six months.
Beginning on October 25, the province will lift nearly all capacity limits that are currently in place.
“This is a cautious plan. It slowly with public health measures over time, allowing us to monitor any impacts on our hospitals and in our communities,” Premier Doug Ford said at a press conference on Friday.
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The announcement comes as the Ontario COVID-19 Science Advisory Table released positive modelling that indicates cases in the province will continue to trend down as long as masking, symptom screening, testing and vaccinating remain in place.
Beginning November 15, the province will lift remaining capacity limits on clubs, strip clubs, bathhouses and sex clubs.
Capacity limits at gyms, restaurants and bars will be removed on Monday. Capacity limits on movie theatres, sporting events, indoor concerts, and other places requiring vaccination proof were lifted on October 8.
Ontario’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Kieran Moore, told reporters that on January 17, the province plans to review the data collected from the months of eased restrictions before pushing through the subsequent phases of the COVID-19 reopening plan.
He added that there are specific metrics that they will be monitoring closely as the province reopens, focusing on ICU capacity, case counts, hospitalizations and test positivity rates.
The next phases of the plan include the province will begin lifting proof of vaccination requirements in low-risk areas if COVID-19 cases. This will happen in late January if case counts look promising.
By February 2022, if cases remain stable, proof of vaccination limits will be lifted in high-risk places.
If cases and hospitalization remain stable, masking mandates will be lifted across the province by March 28, 2022.