Photo By: Markus Winkler from Unsplash

Beginning Jan. 31, 2022, Ontario will be progressively lifting restrictions and lockdown measures implemented to slow the spread of the Omicron variant of COVID-19.

The province has started to see signs of stability in the public health system as a consequence of the new measures imposed earlier this month, according to Ontario’s chief medical officer. The number of people testing positive for the Omicron variant and COVID-19, in general, has reduced, and the number of new hospital admissions has begun to taper off. 

As such, the province will begin to ease restrictions in a phased process, with a three-week gap between each phase. If positivity trends continue, the province will begin to re-open as follows:

Phase One: The province will increase social gathering limits to 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors, increase or maintain capacity limits in indoor public settings at 50 per cent, and allow spectator areas of facilities such as sporting events, concert venues, and theatres to operate at 50 per cent seated capacity or 500 people, whichever is less, beginning Jan. 31. Enhanced verification of vaccination, as well as other criteria such as mask-wearing and physical distancing, will remain in effect. 

Phase Two: Effective Feb. 21, the province will increase social gathering limits to 25 people indoors and 100 people outdoors, remove capacity limits in indoor public settings where proof of vaccination is required, permit spectator capacity at sporting events, concert venues, and theatres at 50 per cent capacity, limit capacity in most remaining indoor public settings where proof of vaccination is not required to the number of people that can maintain two metres of physical distance, increase indoor capacity limits to 25 per cent in the remaining higher-risk settings where proof of vaccination is required. As in the previous phase, enhanced proof of vaccination, and other requirements will continue to apply.

Phase Three: The province will remove capacity limits in all indoor public venues on Mar. 14, lift remaining capacity constraints on religious services, rites, or rituals, and increase social gathering limits to 50 persons indoors with no limits for outdoor gatherings. In addition to other routine measures, proof of vaccination will be maintained in these settings.

To aid in the long-term management of COVID-19, public health units may apply a variety of local and regional strategies based on their unique environment and conditions. Residents are advised to stay connected with the province and local news outlets in order to stay up to speed on the most recent and relevant information in their region. 

The details outlined in this article are based on preliminary information provided by the province of Ontario. Further details will be released before and during each of the proposed phases through the province’s COVID-19 website