Ontario Government To Lift All COVID-19 Restrictions By March

The Government of Ontario says it will lift all COVID-19 public health measures, including mask mandates, by the end of March next year (2022).

Premier Doug Ford said Ontario, Canada’s most populous province, is able to lift all COVID-19 restrictions because of the careful approach to re-opening and the resulting stability seen in case counts, hospitalizations and deaths.

The Ontario government said it will be assessing key public health and health system indicators -- including the identification of new COVID-19 variants and increases in hospitalizations -- in the coming months to ensure restrictions can be lifted safely in the spring.

The easing of COVID-19 restrictions in Ontario begins today (October 25) with capacity limits lifted in restaurants, bars, gyms, casinos and indoor meeting and event spaces.

Museums and galleries, places of worship, and personal care settings can lift restrictions too with proof of vaccination requirements in place. Night clubs and wedding receptions that involve dancing, and sex clubs, can lift capacity limits as of November 15.

Proof-of-vaccination requirements will also start to be lifted early next year starting with restaurants, bars, gyms and casinos in January 2022.

Ontario is aiming to lift all remaining measures, including masking requirements and emergency orders, as well as the proof-of-vaccination in other settings such as sporting events and concert venues, on March 28, 2022.

By then, chief medical officer of health Dr. Kieran Moore said, hopefully enough Ontarians are immunized, including children aged five to 11, so that the virus can't find hosts in which to reproduce.

Restaurants Canada, which was angered when capacity limits were lifted on large venues ahead of small businesses such as restaurants, said it was pleased with the plan. The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) also said it was glad to see the playing field levelled.

Nearly 88% of eligible Ontarians have received at least one dose of a vaccine and proof of vaccination is required to access several venues, including restaurants, cinemas and event spaces.

Ontario reported 492 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday (October 25) with 325 of those in people not fully vaccinated or whose vaccination status is unknown.