ontario reopening plan 2022

Here's a full list of everything that can reopen in Ontario at the end of this month

With the vast majority of 2022 having taken place under harsh public health restrictions meant to stop the spread of COVID-19, Ontario residents were delighted to learn today that some shuttered businesses would be reopening at the end of this month.

"With key public health and healthcare indicators starting to show signs of improvement, the Ontario government, in consultation with the chief medical officer of health, today released details of steps to cautiously and gradually ease public health measures starting on Jan. 31, 2022," announced the province on Thursday, revealing a new, phased plan.

Similar to the Roadmap to Reopen that we followed in 2021, this plan has a built-in timeline of 21 days between each of three steps (though it's of note that the province has broken its 21-day rule several times in the past).

Things will kick off this time around on Monday, Jan. 31 at 12:01 a.m. so long as the Omicron variant stays in check and no new concerning public health trends emerge.

Here's what we can expect to happen on that day when Ontario leaves its latest partial shutdown and starts moving (again) toward some version of normal.

Businesses reopening

Many high-risk indoor settings are currently closed across Ontario, but will reopen at the end of this month with 50 per cent capacity limits in place, alongside mandatory face covering and enhanced proof of vaccination rules.

These setting include but are not limited to:

  • Restaurants, bars, other food or drink establishments without dance facilities and strip clubs
  • Non-spectator areas of facilities used for sports and recreational fitness activities (such as gyms and businesses offering personal fitness training)
  • Cinemas
  • Meeting and event spaces
  • Museums, galleries, aquariums, zoos, science centres, landmarks, historic sites, botanical gardens and similar attractions
  • Casinos, bingo halls and other gaming establishments

Private social gathering limits will also increase from five people indoors and 10 outside, to 10 people indoors and 25 outside.

Organized public events that take place indoors will have an increased capacity limit of 25 people as of Jan. 31.

The province will furthermore allow the indoor spectator areas of facilities used for sports and recreational fitness activities (such as sporting events), concert venues and theatres to operate at 50 per cent of the usual seating capacity or 500 people, whichever is less. Currently, capacity is at zero.

Specific conditions for business operations

Restaurants and bars may reopen at the end of January, but it won't be a straight shot to normalcy yet — not only are indoor dining facilities capped at 50 per cent, there will be strict public health rules in place including:

  • Singing and dancing in restaurants and bars and other select settings will not be allowed except for workers or performers
  • The number of patrons permitted to sit at a table in bars and restaurants, meeting and event spaces, and other venues at which food or drink is sold or served, including nightclubs, restobars and strip clubs that serve food and drink, must to be limited to 10 people and patrons must remain seated
  • Food or drink services at indoor sporting events, concert venues, theatres and cinemas, bingo halls and other gaming establishments, and horse racing tracks, car racing tracks and other similar venues will be prohibited (No popcorn at the movies yet, I'm afraid.)
  • Patrons are required to remain seated at concert venues, theatres and cinemas

The provincial government notes on its website that this is "not intended to be an exhaustive list" and that additional details will be provided as regulations are amended and apporved.

"On Jan. 5, 2022, additional public health measures were put in place to blunt transmission of the Omicron variant and prevent hospitals from being overwhelmed," reads the website. 

"As a result of these temporary measures, we are beginning to see signs of stabilization in key public health and health system indicators. Over the coming days and weeks, we expect these trends to continue, allowing us to begin cautiously easing public health measures."

You can view the full timeline here, but do keep in mind that everything is subject to change based on public health indicators including hospital and ICU capacity.

"Local and regional responses by public health units may be deployed based on local context and conditions," advises the government.

Lead photo by

Hector Vasquez

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