ontario reopening

Here are the latest changes to social gathering limits under Ontario's new reopening plan

After nearly three weeks of yet another stint of business closures and other lockdown restrictions, Ontario Premier Doug Ford has just announced the good news he'd promised residents of the province — namely, the details of a new reopening plan that will kick off at the end of the month.

Under the new phased framework revealed on Thursday morning, bars and restaurants will be permitted to resume indoor dining with capacity limits, while gyms, museums, event spaces, movie theatres, concert halls, sports venues, casinos and other spaces that were forced to shutter once more on Jan. 5 will likewise get to reopen their doors.

Also expanding are social gathering limits, which, like the above changes, will happen in steps, with the first starting at 12:01 a.m. on Jan. 31.

At that time, residents of the province will be permitted to start having private get-togethers of up to 10 people indoors and 25 outdoors, a marked difference from the current caps of just five indoors and 10 out, which came into effect along with the other more stringent measures earlier this year.

Meanwhile, the above mentioned businesses, along with retail stores and all other public indoor spaces, will be able to operate for in-person service with up to 50 per cent capacity (but only up to 500 people in the case of large-scale sporting arenas and concert halls).

This first phase will last 21 days before further reopening in the second phase, which is slated to start at 12:01 a.m. on Feb. 21, when gathering limits will go up to 25 inside and 100 out, and businesses that require proof of vaccination for entry will get to shed capacity limits, among other changes.

Finally, on March 14, social gatherings of up to 50 indoors will be allowed once more, with no limit on outdoor parties. Capacity limits in all indoor public spaces will also be completely nixed at this time.

Fines for those who contravene the Reopening Ontario Act, including those who host large functions in excess of stated limits, still apply.

"Earlier this month we made the very difficult but necessary decision to put in place additional public health measures to protect our hospitals from becoming overwhelmed," Health Minister Christine Elliott said in today's press conference on the matter.

"These measures are starting to have an impact: there are some positive signs that we may be reaching the peak of the Omicron wave in Ontario.... and as we start to see some hopeful signs and begin to ease measures, I want to remind Ontarians how grateful we are for their sacrifices to keep one another safe."

Lead photo by

George Hornaday

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