Here's What You Need To Know About Ontario's New COVID-19 Restrictions Starting This Weekend

New rules come into effect on December 19.

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Here's What You Need To Know About Ontario's New COVID-19 Restrictions Starting This Weekend

Starting this weekend, Ontario's new COVID-19 restrictions will start and there are updated rules around gatherings, restaurants and other businesses.

The provincial government announced additional measures on December 17 that are meant to slow the spread of the Omicron variant.

The new rules come into effect at 12:01 a.m. on Sunday, December 19, 2021, and here's what you need to know.

Gathering limits

In the swath of new restrictions, the provincial government is cutting down gathering limits.

As of 12:01 a.m. on December 19, social gathering limits will be reduced to 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors. It's meant to reduce COVID-19 transmission that can happen at social gatherings.

"This was not an easy decision to make before the holidays," said Christine Elliott, deputy premier and health minister, in the announcement.

Capacity limits

Along with gathering limits being lowered, capacity limits are also being reduced in some indoor public settings.

The following places will have a 50% capacity limit:

  • Restaurants, bars and other food or drink establishments and strip clubs
  • Personal care services
  • Personal physical fitness trainers
  • Retailers (including grocery stores and pharmacies)
  • Shopping malls
  • Non-spectator areas of facilities used for sports and recreational fitness activities (e.g. gyms)
  • Indoor recreational amenities
  • Indoor clubhouses at outdoor recreational amenities
  • Tour and guide services
  • Photography studios and services
  • Marinas and boating clubs
  • Facilities used for sports and recreational fitness activities
  • Entertainment facilities such as concert venues, theatres and cinemas
  • Racing venues
  • Meeting and event spaces
  • Studio audiences in commercial film and television production
  • Museums, galleries, aquariums, zoos, science centres, landmarks, historic sites, botanical gardens and similar attractions
  • Casinos, bingo halls and other gaming establishments
  • Fairs, rural exhibitions and festivals

However, the capacity limit doesn't apply to any part of a business or place that is being used for a wedding, funeral or religious service, rite, or ceremony.

The government said businesses and facilities will need to post a sign clearly stating the capacity limits that are allowed in the establishment.

Restaurant restrictions

In addition to the 50% capacity limit, restaurants are also facing more restrictions along with bars, other food or drink establishments and meeting or event spaces.

The number of people allowed to sit at a table in a restaurant, bar, other food or drink establishment and meeting or event space will be limited to 10 and people will be required to stay seated.

Bars, restaurants, meeting or event spaces and strip clubs that serve food and drinks like a restaurant will be required to close by 11 p.m. each night. Take out and delivery will be allowed after 11 p.m.

Singing and dancing in restaurants, bars and select settings won't be allowed except for workers or performers.

Also, the sale of alcohol will be restricted after 10 p.m. and the consumption of alcohol in businesses or settings will be restricted after 11 p.m.

Other rules

There are also other rules that are coming into effect at 12:01 a.m. on December 19.

At concert venues, theatres and cinemas, people have to stay seated.

Food and/or drink services will not be permitted at indoor sporting events, concert venues, theatres, cinemas, casinos, bingo halls, other gaming establishments, horse racing tracks, car racing tracks and other similar venues.

"The evidence is clear that further public health measures are required to slow the spread of Omicron and prevent our hospitals from being overwhelmed," said Elliott.

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