ONTARIO – The province of Ontario has announced on Friday, Dec. 17 that it will be introducing capacity restrictions on certain venues to help combat the spread of the Omicron variant of the COVID-19 virus just days after committing to expanding availability of third doses of the vaccine and rapid COVID-19 test kits.
“Throughout this entire pandemic, we’ve never faced an enemy like Omicron given how quickly it spreads,” said Premier Doug Ford. “We need to do everything we can to slow its spread as we continue to dramatically ramp up capacity to get as many booster shots into arms as possible. Doing so is the best way to safeguard our hospital and intensive care units.”
The province is introducing a restriction of 50 per cent of a venue’s capacity for indoor settings:
- Restaurants, bars and other food or drink establishments and strip clubs;
- Personal care services;
- Personal physical fitness trainers;
- Retailers (including grocery stores and pharmacies);
- Shopping malls;
- Non-spectator areas of facilities used for sports and recreational fitness activities (e.g. gyms);
- Indoor recreational amenities;
- Indoor clubhouses at outdoor recreational amenities;
- Tour and guide services; and
- Photography studios and services; and
- Marinas and boating clubs.
Outdoor public gatherings are limited to 25 people while indoor social gatherings are limited to 10 people.
Businesses will also be facing the following restrictions:
- The number of patrons permitted to sit at a table will be limited to 10 people and patrons will be required to remain seated in restaurants, bars and other food or drink establishments, meeting and event spaces and strip clubs.
- Bars and restaurants, meeting and event spaces and strip clubs will be required to close by 11 p.m. Take out and delivery will be permitted beyond 11 p.m.
- Dancing will not be allowed except for workers or performers.
- Food and/or drink services will be prohibited at sporting events; concert venues, theatres and cinemas; casinos, bingo halls and other gaming establishments; and horse racing tracks, car racing tracks and other similar venues.
- The sale of alcohol will be restricted after 10 p.m. and consumption of alcohol in businesses or settings after 11 p.m.
These restrictions will go into effect at 12:01 a.m. on Sunday, Dec. 19.
“This was not an easy decision to make before the holidays, but the evidence is clear that further public health measures are required to slow the spread of Omicron and prevent our hospitals from being overwhelmed,” said Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health. “As we expand booster eligibility and continue our Team Ontario effort to get as many shots into arms as possible, I am urging every single person to get their vaccine if they haven’t already done so, and sign up for their booster shot as soon as they’re able.”
The Eastern Ontario Health Unit (EOHU) region added 36 new COVID-19 cases on Friday, bringing total active cases to 153. The seven day rolling average for new cases in the region has risen to approximately 60. Five individuals are hospitalized with the virus with one in an Intensive Care Unit (ICU).