Ontario's Reopening Plan Just Got Paused Indefinitely & Here's What That Means

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Toronto Associate Editor
Ontario's Reopening Plan Just Got Paused Indefinitely & Here's What That Means

Well, it's official — the government of Ontario announced today that it will be extending the pause on part of its reopening plan.

In a news release posted on December 7, the provincial government said it won't be lifting capacity limits as originally planned due to rising concerns about the new Omicron variant.

This means capacity limits will remain in place for higher-risk settings where vaccine certificates are required, which includes night clubs, wedding receptions in event spaces with dance floors, strip clubs, sex clubs and bathhouses, as well as other food or drink establishments with dance facilities.

"In line with Ontario’s cautious approach to date, as public health and medical experts learn more about the Omicron variant, we are continuing to take a deliberate pause in reopening to protect our hard-fought progress against COVID-19," Health Minister Christine Elliott said in the announcement.

"As Ontario continues to take rapid action to protect against COVID-19 and variants, I encourage everyone to get their first, second or booster dose of the COVID-19 vaccine as soon as possible."

The Ontario government hit the pause button on its reopening plan back in November, due to rising case counts and to monitor the effect the increase would have on hospitalizations and ICU admissions.

“While an increase in the number of cases was always expected as we entered the winter months, with the emergence of the Omicron variant we must continue following the measures we have in place that have been working for us,” Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Kieran Moore, said.

Back in October, Ontario laid out a projected timeline for when it could lift some of its capacity limits and restrictions in connection to its vaccine certificate program. Originally, higher-risk settings were expected to see their capacity limits eased on November 15, but now the pause has been put in place indefinitely.

During a question period at Queens Park yesterday, Elliott alluded that this timeline was subject to change given the new Omicron variant.

"We're planning to start lifting things, but, if this Omicron variant circulates widely, and if it's as virulent as it has been in other jurisdictions, we're going to need to take a look at that," she said.

At the moment, Toronto Public Health is currently investigating its very first case of Omicron in a school setting.

This article's cover image was used for illustrative purposes only.

Alex Arsenych
Toronto Associate Editor
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