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Ontario’s Omicron Response: Announcement of the Most Pandemic Restrictions Relaxing Plan

Ontario’s Omicron Response: Announcement of the Most Pandemic Restrictions Relaxing Plan

Alexander Liam

According to the Ontario Government’s announcement on January 20, 2022, the severe restrictions relating to the latest COVID-19 version – Omicron will be eased by light stages. Actually, the relaxing plan is already in realization, it was launched on January 31, 2022.

The start of the removal of restrictions became possible due to the fact that key public health care indicators are showing signs of improvement, says the Chief Medical Officer of Health.

It is expected that the restrictions will ease gradually in three steps. Allocated time for each of the three phases is equal to a three-week interval. In consequence, if the ease-up has started on January 31, these steps will strain through the last winter months until mid-March. It stands to reason that the province’s plan could be radically changed in the case of unforeseen developments or in response to epidemiological situations. The Ontario Government’s announcement also mentioned several rebate programs and grants that will be available to eligible businesses of the province.

In accordance with the statement of Premier Doug Ford, public health measures enacted on January 5, 2022, are working and  the worst is behind Ontarians. He was able to make such a statement in the face of the fact that percent positivity is falling, the time of stay at hospitals is shortening, and the amount of new admissions to health facilities is decreasing. In the absence of any new complications related to COVID-19, Ontario is going to follow a cautious plan, with 21 days between each step, to eliminate all the public restrictions.

Since the 31 of January, Ontario province has started the process of gradual removal of epidemiological restrictions. The provincial government has already increased social gathering limits. For now, the limits comprise twenty-five people outdoors and ten people indoors.

Phase one

Since the 31 of January, Ontario province has started the process of gradual removal of epidemiological restrictions. The provincial government has already increased social gathering limits. For now, they comprise twenty-five people outdoors and ten people indoors. The capacity limits for indoor public facilities are increased to fifty percent of holding capacity. So the updated limits concern bars, restaurants, bars, cafes, and other food-oriented establishments without facilities for dancing, retailers from grocery stores to pharmacies, shopping malls, sport and fitness facilities, spa, cinemas, event spaces, recreational amenities, amusement parks, water parks, zoos, museums, aquariums, galleries and similar attractions. Casinos and other gaming establishments are also ready for a fifty percent fallibility. New capacity limits also include religious services, ceremonies and rites. Spectator areas of such cavernous facilities as concert venues, sporting events and theatres are now allowed to operate with five hundred people viewers or at fifty percent seated capacity, whichever is less. It should be mentioned that such requirements as enhanced proof of vaccination would continue to apply at this juncture.

Phase two

If all goes well, the Ontario Government’s plan for February 21, 2022, is to increase social gathering limits to a hundred people outdoors and twenty-five indoors. Also, the provincial government would remove capacity limits for indoor public facilities with required proof of vaccination like restaurants, indoor recreational facilities, indoor sports infrastructure, cinemas and casinos. Spectator capacity is going to be increased to fifty percent at concert venues, sports events and theatres. Indoor religious ceremonies, services and rites will get new limitations, too. This place will be able to get in as many spectators as the facility can maintain on the premise of two meters of physical distance. But there will be no limits if proof of vaccination is required. Also, the indoor capacity limits will be increased to twenty-five percent in places of higher risk with required proof of vaccination. It is referred to as wedding receptions, nightclubs, sex clubs, bathhouses and spaces intended for meetings or events. It is worth mentioning that enhanced proof of vaccination and other requirements still would be in charge during the second phase.

Phase three

Starting on March 14, 2022, the Ontario government will be ready to take some additional steps to ease public health measures. The elimination of capacity restrictions for all indoor public facilities is in the plan, but with retaining proof of vaccination in existing settings and other regular measures. So the restaurants, bars and casinos will be able to get back to normal functioning. Social gathering limits will be increased to fifty people indoors and, finally, no limits for the outdoors.

It stands to reason that for the successful management of the situation with COVID-19 on a long-term horizon, regional and local public health units may be deployed with consideration to conditions and context of the situation.

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