Today, Ontario officially announced new restrictions and moved to modified step two of the roadmap to reopen. New restrictions were announced in response to highly transmissible Omicron variant. Data has shown that Omicron is highly communicable, but it’s less severe of all the variants.
Announcement was made by premier of Ontario, Doug Ford along with Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, Peter Bethlenflavy, Minister of Finance, Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education, Dr. Kieran Moore, Chief Medical Officer of Health, and Matt Anderson, CEO of Ontario Health.
Beginning January 5, 2022 at 12:01 am EST, the Ontario will return to the modified version of Step Two of the Roadmap to Reopen for at least 21 days (until January 26, 2022), subject to trends in public health and health system indicators. These measures include (information copied from Ontario Newsroom):
- Reducing social gathering limits to five people indoors and 10 people outdoors.
- Limiting capacity at organized public events to five people indoors.
- Requiring businesses and organizations to ensure employees work remotely unless the nature of their work requires them to be on-site.
- Limiting capacity at indoor weddings, funerals, and religious services, rites and ceremonies to 50 per cent capacity of the particular room. Outdoor services are limited to the number of people that can maintain 2 meters of physical distance. Social gatherings associated with these services must adhere to the social gathering limits.
- Retail settings, including shopping malls, permitted at 50 per cent capacity. For shopping malls physical distancing will be required in line-ups, loitering will not be permitted and food courts will be required to close.
- Personal care services permitted at 50 per cent capacity and other restrictions. Saunas, steam rooms, and oxygen bars closed.
- Closing indoor meeting and event spaces with limited exceptions but permitting outdoor spaces to remain open with restrictions.
- Public libraries limited to 50 per cent capacity.
- Closing indoor dining at restaurants, bars and other food or drink establishments. Outdoor dining with restrictions, takeout, drive through and delivery is permitted.
- Restricting the sale of alcohol after 10 p.m. and the consumption of alcohol on-premise in businesses or settings after 11 p.m. with delivery and takeout, grocery/convenience stores and other liquor stores exempted.
- Closing indoor concert venues, theatres, cinemas, rehearsals and recorded performances permitted with restrictions.
- Closing museums, galleries, zoos, science centres, landmarks, historic sites, botanical gardens and similar attractions, amusement parks and waterparks, tour and guide services and fairs, rural exhibitions, and festivals. Outdoor establishments permitted to open with restrictions and with spectator occupancy, where applicable, limited to 50 per cent capacity.
- Closing indoor horse racing tracks, car racing tracks and other similar venues. Outdoor establishments permitted to open with restrictions and with spectator occupancy limited to 50 per cent capacity. Boat tours permitted at 50 per cent capacity.
- Closing indoor sport and recreational fitness facilities including gyms, except for athletes training for the Olympics and Paralympics and select professional and elite amateur sport leagues. Outdoor facilities are permitted to operate but with the number of spectators not to exceed 50 per cent occupancy and other requirements.
- All publicly funded and private schools will move to remote learning starting January 5 until at least January 17, subject to public health trends and operational considerations.
- School buildings would be permitted to open for child care operations, including emergency child care, to provide in-person instruction for students with special education needs who cannot be accommodated remotely and for staff who are unable to deliver quality instruction from home.
- During this period of remote learning, free emergency child care will be provided for school-aged children of health care and other eligible frontline workers.
Furthermore, W.E.F. January 5 all non-emergent and non-urgent surgeries and procedures in order will be paused to preserve critical care and human resource capacity.
Premier Doug Ford admitted that initial studies show that Omicron is not severe, but highly transmissible and we can see around 100,000 cases per day. With only 1% requiring hospitalization and as opposite to previous variants, Omicron infected patients are able to recover in shorter time-frame.
Furthermore, he added that nobody can stop Omicron, but province will work on slowing down the variant to reduce stress on Ontario Healthcare. Premier also mentioned that there will be a tsunami of cases and all the residents should now brace for impact.
“As we continue with our provincial vaccine booster efforts, we must look at every option to slow the spread of the highly contagious Omicron variant. Putting these targeted and time-limited measures in place will give us more opportunity to deliver vaccines to all Ontarians and ensure everyone has maximum protection against this virus.”Premier, Doug Ford
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