ontario covid

Doug Ford announces plan to lift Ontario COVID restrictions and here's the full timeline

Ontario will officially begin reopening again fewer than two weeks from today after nearly a month under yet another round of heavy COVID-19 lockdown restrictions that forced the closures of gyms, cinemas, indoor restaurants, bars and more.

"The evidence tells us that the measures we put in place to blunt transmission of Omicron are working," said Premier Doug Ford on Thursday, referring to the provincewide public health measures that went into place on Jan. 5, 2022. "We can be confident that the worst is behind us and that we are now in a position to cautiously and gradually ease public health measures.

Ontario reverted back to back to Step 2 of the government's Roadmap to Reopen at 12:01 a.m. on Jan. 5, at which point schools, bars, gyms, restaurants, cinemas, museums and concert venues were ordered to shut down completely. Retail stores, hair salons, libraries and other business types were given a capacity limit of 50 per cent and social gathering limits were lowered back down to just ten people outdoors, five inside.

While difficult for business owners who've now endured multiple mandatory shutdown periods, the measures appear to have worked, at least by the province's estimation.

"As a result of the additional public health measures enacted on January 5, 2022, the province is beginning to see signs of stabilization in key public health and health system indicators," reads a release issued Thursday morning.

"Per cent positivity has fallen and new admissions to hospital have started to stabilize with length of stay shortening considerably. Over the coming days and weeks, these trends are expected to continue, allowing the province to begin cautiously easing public health measures."

We won't see everything go back to normal on Jan. 26 — the earliest date Ontario could have moved beyond Step 2, by the roadmap's own 21-day-per-stage rule — but shuttered businesses will finally get to reopen their doors by the end of this month.

"In the absence of concerning trends in public health and health care indicators, Ontario will follow a cautious and phased approach to lifting public health measures, with 21 days between each step," announced the government today.

Below, per the Province of Ontario, is the stated timeline for what will reopen when, should everything roll out as planned. Please note that enhanced proof of vaccination, mandatory face coverings and other requirements will continue to apply in existing settings until further notice.

Jan. 31, 2022

On Monday, Jan. 31, 2022 at 12:01 a.m, Ontario will make a number of changes to its current set of public health restrictions by:

  • Increasing social gathering limits to 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors.
  • Increasing or maintaining capacity limits at 50 per cent in indoor public settings, including but not limited to:
    • Restaurants, bars and other food or drink establishments without dance facilities;
    • Retailers (including grocery stores and pharmacies)
    • Shopping malls;
    • Non-spectator areas of sports and recreational fitness facilities, including gyms;
    • Cinemas;
    • Meeting and event spaces;
    • Recreational amenities and amusement parks, including water parks;
    • Museums, galleries, aquariums, zoos and similar attractions; and
    • Casinos, bingo halls and other gaming establishments
    • Religious services, rites, or ceremonies.
    • Allowing spectator areas of facilities such as sporting events, concert venues and theatres to operate at 50 per cent seated capacity or 500 people, whichever is less.
Feb. 21, 2022

On Monday, Feb. 21, 2022 at 12:01 a.m, Ontario will move to the following rule set:

  • Social gathering limits increased to 25 people indoors and 100 people outdoors.
  • Capacity limits removed in indoor public settings where proof of vaccination is required, including but not limited to restaurants, indoor sports and recreational facilities, cinemas, as well as other settings that choose to opt-in to proof of vaccination requirements.
  • Permitting spectator capacity at sporting events, concert venues, and theatres at 50 per cent capacity.
  • Limiting capacity in most remaining indoor public settings where proof of vaccination is not required to the number of people that can maintain two metres of physical distance.
  • Indoor religious services, rites or ceremonies limited to the number that can maintain two metres of physical distance, with no limit if proof of vaccination is required.
  • Increasing indoor capacity limits to 25 per cent in the remaining higher-risk settings where proof of vaccination is required, including nightclubs, wedding receptions in meeting or event spaces where there is dancing, as well as bathhouses and sex clubs
March 14, 2022

On Monday, March 14, 2022 at 12:01 a.m, the government will change its restrictions once again by:

  • Lifting capacity limits in all indoor public settings. Proof of vaccination will be maintained in existing settings in addition to other regular measures.
  • Lifting remaining capacity limits on religious services, rites, or ceremonies.
  • Increasing social gathering limits to 50 people indoors with no limits for outdoor gatherings.

The province says that further details, including all public health and workplace safety measures, "will be shared as Ontario progresses through its reopening plan."

"The months ahead will require continued vigilance, as we don't want to cause any further disruption to people's everyday lives," said the province's Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Kieran Moore, on Thursday.

"We must continue to prevent the transmission of COVID-19 in our communities by following the measures in place and by vaccinating those who have not yet received their doses."

Lead photo by

Premier of Ontario


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