As Omicron cases increase, Ontario returns to a modified Step 2 of the COVID-19 roadmap. The COVID-19 Science Advisory Table in Ontario estimates the number of new cases per day to be just under 20,000, and the Omicron variant accounts for 97.8 percent of these infections.
On December 19, 2021, Ontario reintroduced capacity limits at restaurants, bars, and retailers, capping most at 50%. It also required them to close at 11 p.m., placed restrictions on the sale of alcohol, and limited private indoor gatherings to 10 people. Today, COVID-19 guidelines and mask bylaws are still in effect, including vaccination requirements and the use of masks or face coverings.
But starting January 5, Ontario imposes new restrictions and will be in place until January 27, depending on public health and our healthcare system trends. This article has compiled a complete list of new rules in Ontario, including gathering, capacity limits, closures, and many more. Read about it below!
Ontario's New Restrictions
Gatherings and Capacity Limits
- Social gatherings are reduced to five (5) people indoors and ten (10) people outside. Indoor capacity at organized public events is limited to five people (5), while outside spaces are open. However, outdoor attendees must wear face masks when physical distancing (2 metres or more) is impossible.
- Businesses and organizations must ensure that employees work remotely unless the nature of their work needs them to be present on-site.
- Capacity for indoor weddings, funerals, and ceremonies is limited to 50%. The same goes for retail establishments, including shopping malls and public libraries.
- Restrictions on organized public events and social gatherings do not apply to retirement homes.
- For facilities with a standard capacity of 20,000 or more people, proof of vaccination is required.
- With few exceptions, indoor meeting and event spaces must close, but outdoor spaces can remain open with restrictions.
- There is no dining inside restaurants, bars, and other food and beverage establishments, while only ten people per table for outdoor dining. Services like takeout, drive-through, and delivery are permitted as well.
- Indoor concert halls, theatres, and cinemas must close, but rehearsals and recorded performances are allowed under certain conditions.
- Other closures include museums, galleries, zoos, science centers, landmarks, historic sites, botanical gardens, amusement parks and waterparks, tour and guide services, festivals, saunas, food courts, and indoor racing tracks.
- Casinos, bingo halls, and other sports betting must close.
- A spectator occupancy is limited to 50%. Boat tours are allowed at 50% capacity.
- Except for athletes training for the Olympics and Paralympics and select sports leagues, indoor sport and recreational fitness facilities, including gyms, must close.
- All public and private schools must switch to online learning beginning January 5 and continuing until at least January 17, depending on public health trends and other conditions.
- School buildings are open for child care and in-person instruction for students with special education needs who cannot be accommodated remotely.
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The Chief Medical Officer has also directed hospitals to halt non-emergent and non-urgent surgeries and procedures to "preserve critical care and human resource capacity."
- There are no open houses for real estate agencies, and all property viewings must be by appointment only.
- Barbers, hair salons, and tattoo parlours can run at 50% capacity.
- Short-term rentals can operate for those in need of housing (but not hotels, motels, lodges, resorts, or student residences). Ice fishing huts are allowed with restrictions.
- At 10 p.m., all alcohol sales must end, and no alcohol consumption on-premises in businesses after 11 p.m.
- Driving instruction for commercial motor vehicles must be limited to in-person instruction only.
The number of reported cases in Ontario has significantly increased. That is why we must always ensure that all public health measures, including those listed above, are appropriately implemented.
The government is also looking into ways to provide additional support, such as grants, to businesses and workers greatly affected by the province's transition into a modified Step Two of the Roadmap to Reopen.
While no one wants to be restricted further, these measures are necessary to limit Omicron transmission and protect healthcare system capacity. Limit your close contacts, isolate yourself if you become ill, and continue to follow all other public health precautions.