Ontario eases COVID-19 restrictions on restaurants and gyms starting Monday – .

Ontario eases COVID-19 restrictions on restaurants and gyms starting Monday – .

Finally, a reason to wait impatiently for Monday.

Restaurants, bars and fitness centers may start welcoming more customers from Monday as part of a long-awaited easing of Ontario’s COVID-19 capacity limits, the Star has learned.

These measures are part of a “comprehensive” roadmap to be presented on Friday by Premier Doug Ford and Chief Medical Officer Dr Kieran Moore for the next phase of the plan to reopen the province in the event of a pandemic, sources said.

Bolstered by the lack of a spike in new cases after Thanksgiving, liberalization follows a steady easing of restrictions in recent months and will be announced with the entry into force of a new QR code system for smartphones on Friday. proof of vaccination in non-essential locations.

Senior government officials, speaking in confidence to discuss internal deliberations, said Ford’s cabinet approved the changes in a meeting Thursday after input from Moore and other health experts.

“Some limits start to lift next week. Restaurants and gyms, ”said a senior official.

Another said some bans would be gradually lifted to assess their impact. Gyms, for example, have been limited to 50% of their capacity since they were allowed to reopen in July and restaurants have also been restricted since indoor dining resumed.

As part of the plan, Moore pledged “dates, timelines and data that we expect to reopen the economy again in a phased, phased and cautious approach,” while Ford advised patience as Health officials continue to closely monitor key indicators of the pandemic.

“I am not going to rush it because whatever you do in this pandemic, you are rushing it, it can come back and backfire on you,” the Prime Minister warned a week ago.

Clarity and detailed thresholds for case levels, ICU admissions and other benchmarks are what the business world is asking for, especially since capacity restrictions in places like arenas Professional sports, concert halls and movie theaters were suddenly lifted over Thanksgiving weekend, while limits remained in place for places like restaurants and fitness centers.

“It always rubs business owners the wrong way,” Ryan Mallough of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business said Thursday afternoon as a slew of reopening proposals were submitted to Ford’s cabinet for discussion. .

“If the Scotiabank Arena can be opened at 100% capacity, why not a restaurant?

James Rilett of Restaurants Canada said the government had failed to adequately answer this question, which has hurt the industry as it tries to recover from months of restaurant closures indoors.

“We need the government and the Chief Medical Officer to send messages that restaurants are a safe place to go out and eat because their messages over the past two weeks have been problematic for the industry,” Rilett told the Star.

“We really want the distancing requirements removed. “

Dr Peter Juni, scientific director of the Ford Advisory Volunteer Science Table, told Star’s May Warren this week that studies have shown epidemics resulted from people taking off their masks – at dinner, for example – in poorly ventilated interior spaces.

Regardless of the reason that restaurants and other venues have been withheld from any full reopening, the government needs to clarify the details and provide advice on how the problems can be overcome – perhaps with financial help for better. ventilation, Mallough said.

“Ultimately what we want to see is a level playing field,” he said.

“I echo the cries of restaurateurs about how you can eat a pig dog and drink a beer neck and neck with someone at a sporting event, but you can’t do it in front of a someone’s table in a restaurant? ”

With colder weather after an unusually mild onset of fall, medical experts warn that caution is the order of the day. They say the risk of the increased spread of COVID-19 remains as more people congregate indoors and the highly contagious Delta variant continues to circulate despite slowly rising vaccination rates.

The province reported 413 new cases of the virus and four deaths on Thursday. The seven-day infection average fell to 406, its lowest point since early August. Admissions to intensive care units are also stable and immunization levels have increased, with nearly 84% of Ontarians over the age of 12 fully immunized.

“It’s wonderful to see Ontario doing so well to keep COVID-19 rates low. This is probably due to a slow and methodical reopening plan coupled with maintaining public health measures, ”infectious disease specialist Dr Isaac Bogoch wrote on Twitter on Thursday.

But he added: “It’s still far too early for the ‘mission accomplished’ banner. ”

That’s why the province must be prepared to reinstate restrictions if trends go in the wrong direction like they did last winter, when it took a spring lockdown to stop a third wave, Bogoch said.

“I was there, I did that. The pandemic is not (yet) over.


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