Ontario will ease COVID-19 restrictions on restaurants and gyms starting Monday

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Finally, a reason to look forward to Monday.

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Restaurants, bars and fitness centers can begin welcoming more customers from Monday as part of the long-awaited easing of Ontario’s COVID-19 capacity limits, the Star has learned.

The moves are part of a “comprehensive” road map to be drawn up on Friday for the next phase of the province’s pandemic reopening plan by Premier Doug Ford and Chief Medical Officer Dr Kieran Moore, sources said.


Due to the lack of a post-Thanksgiving spike in new cases, liberalization continues to ease restrictions in recent months and a new system of smartphone QR codes for proof of vaccination at non-essential locations will be announced starting Friday. will take effect.

Senior government officials, speaking confidentially on internal deliberations, said Ford’s cabinet approved the changes at a meeting Thursday after input from Moore and other health experts.

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“Some of the limits start lifting from next week. restaurant and gym,” said a senior official.

Another said some restrictions would be gradually lifted to assess their impact. For example, gyms have been limited to 50 percent capacity since they were allowed to reopen in July and restaurants have also been banned since indoor dining resumed.

As part of the plan, Moore has promised “dates and timelines and data by which we anticipate reopening the economy in a phased, phased and cautious approach” while Ford has advised patience as health officials Let’s continue to watch key pandemic indicators closely.

“I’m not going to rush it because anything you do in this pandemic, you rush it, it could come back and backfire on you,” the premier warned a week ago.

Clarity and detailed limits for case levels, intensive care unit admissions and other benchmarks are what the business community has been asking – especially in places like pro sports arenas, concert halls and movie theaters suddenly lifted over the Thanksgiving weekend. While the limits remained for places like restaurants and fitness centers.

“It’s still rubbing business owners the wrong way,” Ryan Mallow of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business said Thursday afternoon as a host of reopening proposals went to Ford’s cabinet for discussion.

“If Scotiabank Arena can open at 100 percent capacity, why not restaurants?”

Restaurants Canada’s James Rillett said the government had not adequately answered that question, and that it has hurt the industry as it tries to recover from months of indoor dining shutdowns.

“We need to send the message to the government and the chief medical officer that restaurants are a safe place to go out and eat, because his message for the past two weeks has been problematic for the industry,” Riley told the Star.

“We really want to address the needs to be done away with.”

Scientific director of the Science Table of Volunteers advising Ford, Dr. Peter Juney told Granthshala’s May Warren this week that studies have shown outbreaks have occurred in poorly ventilated indoor spaces as a result of people taking off their masks — to eat, for example.

Whatever the reason for holding back restaurants and other places from any full reopening, the government needs to clarify the details and provide guidance on how the problems can be addressed – perhaps through better ventilation. With the aid money, Mallow said.

“Ultimately, what we want to see is an even playing field,” he said.

“I echo the cries of restaurateurs how can you eat a hog dog and sip beer side by side with someone at a sporting event, but you can’t do it from someone’s table at a restaurant? ”

With cooler weather coming after an unusually mild downpour, medical experts warn that caution is warranted. They say the risk of an increased spread of COVID-19 remains as more people gather indoors and the highly contagious delta variant continues to circulate despite gradually increasing vaccination rates.

The province reported 413 new cases of the virus and four deaths on Thursday. The seven-day average of infections has come down to 406, the lowest point since early August. Intensive care unit admissions are also stable and vaccination levels have increased, with about 84 percent of Ontario people over the age of 12 fully vaccinated.

“It is wonderful to see Ontario doing so well in keeping COVID-19 rates down. This is probably due to a slow and orderly reopening plan coupled with maintaining public health measures,” infectious disease specialist Dr. Isaac Bogoch wrote on Twitter on Thursday.

But he added, “It’s still too soon for the ‘Mission Complete’ banner.”

Bogoch said the province should therefore be prepared to reinstate restrictions if trends go in the wrong direction, like they did last winter, when spring lockdowns were in place to prevent a third wave.

“There was that. The pandemic is not over (yet).”

Rob Ferguson is a Toronto-based reporter who covers Ontario politics for the Star. Follow him on Twitter: @RobFerguson1
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