ontario covid

Here are the new lockdown restrictions on deck for Ontario

In the midst of Ontario's rapidly climbing COVID-19 case counts, the province has reached a point that we were promised we'd never be at again: facing the return of earlier lockdown restrictions.

As of the last few days, the plan to ease proof-of-vaccination rules next month is no longer on the table, capacity limits at entertainment venues that host 1,000 guests or more have been cut in half, new travel rules are in effect and the booster shot rollout has been accelerated to try and mitigate community spread of the Omicron variant.

And now, even more public health measures are apparently on the way, as per the guidance of the COVID-19 Science Advisory Table, which released new modelling projections and consequent recommendations for further action on Thursday.

According to multiple insider sources that spoke with outlets such as CP24 and CTV News Toronto, Premier Doug Ford will be announcing new restrictions during his press conference at 3:30 p.m. on Friday following a Cabinet meeting two hours earlier.

These are likely to include new, more stringent gathering limits — from the current 25 indoors to 10, just before the holidays — and lowering capacity limits in certain settings to just 25 per cent.

(Aside from aforementioned caps just introduced at sports stadiums, concert halls and other large-scale venues, nearly all businesses have been able to operate at 100 per cent capacity and without social distancing requirements for many weeks now thanks to vaccine passport rules.)

The province may also be switching the definition of "fully vaccinated" to include only those people who have received three doses of an approved vaccine — something most people under 50 will only be able to book an appointment for starting on Dec. 20.

Additionally, there is talk that Ford may revert some or all public health regions back into Step 2 or 3 of the 3-Step Roadmap to Reopen that served as our most recent framework for lockdown guidelines, which we essentially shed in the fall.

Leaders in some jurisdictions, such as Kingston and Greater Sudbury, have already taken it upon themselves to impose tighter measures in recent days, while Ontario Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Keiran Moore said on Tuesday that he would soon be providing "further advice on potential maximum numbers for gatherings" for the whole province.

The health table, meanwhile, is now advocating for an "immediate circuit breaker" that would include "strong additional public health measures," yet noted that the government shouldn't necessarily "stop things full out," as it is "important to maintain activity in a number of very hard-hit business sectors and maintain kids at school."

Lead photo by

Jeremy Gilbert

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