ontario covid restrictions

Here are the restrictions now in place as Ontario enters its next phase of reopening

Ontario is lifting more and more COVID restrictions as health system indicators improve, and today marking the province's advancement into a new stage of reopening — a few days earlier than planned, at that.

Revealed by Premier Doug Ford during a rare Monday morning announcement on Feb. 14, a new, expedited timeline for lifting (most) current COVID-related public health restrictions went into effect as of 12:01 a.m. today (Thursday, Feb. 17.)

The process begins with the removal of capacity limits at bars, restaurants, cinemas, gyms and more, and will progress on March 1 when we see capacity limits eliminated for all indoor spaces.

The new plan also has Ontario completely nixing its controversial vaccine passport system on March 1, though establishments where proof-of-vaccination is currently required can continue on with the measure if they so choose.

"Thanks to the province's high vaccination rates and the continued sacrifices of Ontarians, we are now in a position where we can move forward in our plan earlier than anticipated," said Minister of Health Christine Elliott on Monday when announcing the move.

"With hospitalizations and ICU admissions continuing to decline, we are committed to maintaining a gradual and cautious approach to protect our hospital capacity and ensure patients can access the care they need when they need it."

While the news of a return to some sort of normalcy is exciting for many, some are understandably confused by the plan's multi-phased approach, as well as the fact that rules have changed once again since the latest reopening plan was announced and implemented on Jan. 31.

If you're one of those people, fret not — below, per the provincial government, is what changed in Ontario as of Feb. 17, 2022:

  • Social gathering limits have increased to 50 people indoors and 100 people outdoors.
  • Organized public event limits are now set at 50 people indoors with no limit outdoors.
  • Capacity limits have been removed completely in the following indoor public settings where proof of vaccination is required, including but not limited to:
    • Restaurants, bars and other food or drink establishments without dance facilities
    • Non-spectator areas of sports and recreational fitness facilities, including gyms
    • Cinemas
    • Meeting and event spaces, including conference centres or convention centres
    • Casinos, bingo halls and other gaming establishments
    • Indoor areas of settings that choose to opt-in to proof of vaccination requirements.
  • Indoor capacity limits are being raised to 25 per cent in "the remaining higher-risk settings where proof of vaccination is required, including nightclubs, restaurants where there is dancing, as well as bathhouses and sex clubs."
  • Weddings, funerals or religious services, rites, or ceremonies are now limited only to "the number of people who can maintain two metres physical distance." Capacity limits are removed altogether if these locations opt-in to use proof of vaccination, or if the service, rite, or ceremony is occurring outdoors.
  • Capacity limits in other indoor public settings, such as grocery stores, pharmacies, retail and shopping malls, will be maintained at, or increased to, the number of people who can maintain two metres physical distance.

Beginning tomorrow, Feb. 18, booster shot eligibility will be expanded to Ontario aged 12 to 17. 

Then, on March 1, all remaining indoor capacity limits will be lifted, as will proof of vaccination requirements for all settings.

Please note that health officials continue to stress the importance of vaccination, and that you'll be legally required to wear a mask or face covering in indoor public spaces until further notice.

As of today, 90 per cent of all Ontario residents aged 12 or older are fully vaccinated. Some two per cent remain partially vaxxed, according to the Ministry of Health, while eight per cent of the province has yet to get the jab at all.

Lead photo by

A Great Capture

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