Earlier this month the government implemented additional public health measures to blunt the transmission of the Omicron variant. The sacrifices Ontarians are making have provided glimmers of hope, and we are seeing stabilization of some key indicators. Omicron cases are expected to peak this month, with a peak in hospitalizations and ICU admissions to follow.

With key public health and health care indicators starting to show signs of improvement as a result of additional public health measures enacted on January 5, the government, in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health, today released details of steps to cautiously and gradually ease public health measures, starting on January 31, 2022.

In the absence of concerning trends in public health and health care indicators, Ontario will follow a cautious and phased approach to lifting public health measures, with 21 days between each step.

Effective January 31, 2022 at 12:01 a.m., Ontario will begin the process of gradually easing restrictions while maintaining protective measures, including:
·       Increasing social gathering limits to 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors.
·       Increasing or maintaining capacity limits at 50 per cent in indoor public settings, including but not limited to:

  • Restaurants, bars and other food or drink establishments without dance facilities;
  • Retailers (including grocery stores and pharmacies);
  • Shopping malls;
  • Non-spectator areas of sports and recreational fitness facilities, including gyms;
  • Cinemas;
  • Meeting and event spaces;
  • Museums, galleries, aquariums, zoos and similar attractions; and
  • Casinos, bingo halls and other gaming establishments
  • Religious services, rites, or ceremonies.
  • Allowing spectator areas of facilities such as sporting events, concert venues and theatres to operate at 50 per cent seated capacity or 500 people, whichever is less.

As we have previously done, we will take a gradual and phased approach with 21 days between each step to make sure we haven’t moved too fast or put our progress at risk. While we can be confident in how far we’ve come, we’re not out of the woods yet. The coming weeks will continue to pose challenges, especially for our hospitals. The months ahead will require continued vigilance to protect Ontarians and ensure that we can continue to move forward. Getting vaccinated is the best way to protect against COVID-19. All eligible are encouraged to get vaccinated as soon as possible.

Proof of vaccination requirements would continue to apply in existing settings.

Learn More: Ontario Outlines Steps to Cautiously and Gradually Ease Public Health Measures – Christine Elliott (christineelliottmpp.ca)

Source: Christine Elliott, Ontario Minister of Health, January 2022