ONTARIO – Ontario Premier Doug Ford and Deputy Premier and Health Minister Christine Elliott announced new COVID-19 restrictions to fight the Omicron variant on Monday, Jan. 3, 2022.
Premier Ford explained how the Omicron variant could threaten to overwhelm the provincial healthcare system.
“We face a tsunami of new cases in the days and weeks ahead,” Ford said.
Ford said that while Omicron is less likely to cause severe illness, its transmissibility will present a challenge.
“The evidence tells us that about one per cent of people who get Omicron will end up in hospital,” Ford said. “Omicron is much much more transmissible so the math isn’t on our side. We could see hundreds of thousands of new cases every day. One per cent of hundreds of thousands is too much for our hospitals to handle.”
As a result, Ford announced that school aged students will not return to classrooms for at least two weeks and that instead they would be remote learning from home.
As of Wednesday, Jan. 5 at 12:01 a.m., the province would re-enter a modified Step Two of the provincial re-opening plan.
Some restrictions that will come into effect at that time include reducing indoor capacity to five people, outdoor to 10.
The province is asking that individuals work remotely wherever possible.
Indoor dining will be closed, and restaurants and bars will be restricted to drive through and takeout service.
Gyms, museums, cinemas, and other institutions will no longer be able to provide indoor service, with outdoor service being allowed with some restrictions.
Retail stores are allowed to remain open at 50 per cent capacity.
The province is also directing all hospitals to stop non-urgent procedures.
“Omicron spreads like wildfire,” Ford said. “If we do not act. If we don’t do everything possible to get this variant under control the results could be catastrophic.”