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Province to begin lifting COVID restrictions on Jan. 31

By mid-March most limits will be eliminated, Ford says


Ontario's COVID-19 public health restrictions will begin easing at the end of January, Premier Doug Ford announced Thursday morning.

Remaining measures will be lifted incrementally with most restrictions gone by mid-March.

“The evidence tells us that the measures we put in place to blunt transmission of Omicron are working,” Ford told a news conference.

“We can be confident that the worst is behind us and that we are now in a position to cautiously and gradually ease public health measures. While February will continue to present its own challenges, given current trends these are challenges we are confident we can manage.”

But Ford said the reopening plan could change based on COVID-19 trends in the province.

Proof of vaccination and masking will still be required.

Starting Jan. 31, many indoor settings will see their capacities lifted to or maintained at 50 per cent, including:

* Restaurants, bars and other food establishments.

* Retailers and shopping malls.

* Event spaces and cinemas.

* Recreational amenities, including amusement parks.

* Museums, galleries, aquariums and zoos.

* Gaming establishments.

* Religious services.

* Gyms and non-spectator areas of sports facilities.

Spectator areas of sports facilities, theatres and concert venues can open at 50 per cent capacity or a 500-person limit, whichever number is lower based on the individual building.

Indoor social gathering limits will be increased to 10 people and outdoor gatherings to 25.

More restrictions will be lifted on Feb. 21, with social gatherings limited to 25 people indoors and 100 outdoors as well as:

* Removing capacity limits in indoor public settings where proof of vaccination is required. Settings that choose to opt-in to proof of vaccination requirements will have capacity limits lifted.

* 50 per cent spectator capacity will be allowed at sporting events, concert venues and theatres.

* Indoor religious services will be limited to the number of people that can maintain two metres of physical distancing, with no limit where proof of vaccination is required.

* Indoor capacity limits of 25 per cent in higher-risk settings where proof of vaccination is required, such as nightclubs, wedding receptions, event spaces where there is dancing.

On March 14, more limits will be lifted, including:

* Capacity limits in all indoor public settings.

* Capacity limits for religious services.

* Social gathering limits to 50 indoors with no capacity outdoors.

Proof of vaccination will remain where already required.

More details of the province's plan can be viewed here.

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