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Province presents road map for lifting COVID-19 restrictions

Capacity limits at restaurants and other settings requiring proof of vaccination will be lifted on Monday, masks may stay a requirement until the end of March.
Doug Ford
Ontario Premier Doug Ford in Thunder Bay in July 2021. (Leith Dunick, tbnewswatch.com/FILE)

THUNDER BAY – The end is in sight for public health and workplace safety measures in Ontario, many of which have been in place since the pandemic began 19 months ago.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford on Friday announced a plan to incrementally start lifting restrictions by March 2022, starting on Monday with the end to capacity limits and physical distancing requirements for many settings, if they choose to require proof of vaccination.

Included on the list are personal care services, indoor areas of museums, amusement parks, fairs, rural exhibitions and festivals, indoor tour and guide services, boat tours, indoor areas of marinas and boating clubs and clubhouses at outdoor recreational amenities.

Open house events provided by real estate agencies and indoor areas of photography studios and services will also be impacted, as will locations where a wedding, funeral or religious service, rite or ceremony takes place.

Remembrance Day Ceremonies and Santa Claus parades will also see capacity limits increased.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford said it's time to start planning for post-pandemic life and to provide a light at the end of the tunnel for Ontarians who have lived through nearly two years of COVID-19.

“Thanks to our cautious and careful approach to re-opening, we are now in position to gradually lift all remaining public health measures over the coming months,” Ford said in a release issued on Friday by the province.

 “This plan is built for the long term. It will guide us safely through the winter and out of this pandemic, while avoiding lockdowns and ensuring we don’t lose the hard-fought gains we have made.”

The gradual lifting of restrictions  will continue on Nov. 15 with the removal of capacity numbers at wedding receptions and night clubs, where proof of vaccination required.

By mid-January the province intends to lift capacity limits in settings where proof of vaccination is not required, and the requirements to show proof of vaccination may also begin to be lifted at other establishments, including bars and restaurants, sports and recreational facilities and casinos and bingo halls.

Ontario plans to lift proof of vaccination at high-risk settings, such as strip clubs, night clubs and bathhouses.

Finally, by March 28, the remaining public health and workplace safety measures, including the wearing of masks, will be ended, though recommendations may be put in place for specific settings. The need to provide proof of vaccination will also be lifted at this time.

“We are now in a position where we can see the proposed plan for lifting the remaining public health and workplace safety measures in Ontario,” said Dr. Kieran Moore, chief medical officer of health. “The months ahead will require continued vigilance, as we don’t want to cause anymore unnecessary disruption to people’s everyday lives.

“We must continue to prevent the transmission of COVID-19 in our communities by following the public health measures in place and by vaccinating those who have not yet received their shots. Ontario has the infrastructure in place to manage outbreaks, including a high-volume capacity for testing, and people to perform fast and effective case and contact management when needed.”

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