Ontario is once again hitting ‘pause’ on lifting remaining capacity limits in higher-risk settings that require proof of COVID-19 vaccination.
The government says the move comes as public health indicators laid out in recent modelling indicate a rise in cases — with an expected increase in hospitalizations and ICU treatments.
Initially, capacity limits at food or drink establishments — nightclubs, wedding reception facilities and meeting/event spaces with dancing — as well as strip clubs, sex clubs and bathhouses were set to lift on Nov. 15.
However, any changes to capacity limits in those settings have been pushed back another 28 days to re-evaluate whether trends improve.
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“In line with Ontario’s cautious approach to date, as public health and medical experts learn more about the Omicron variant, we are continuing to take a deliberate pause in reopening — to protect our hard-fought progress against COVID-19,” Health Minister Christine Elliott said.
No date has been given by the province for re-evaluating capacity limits might be lifted.
On Tuesday, Ontario’s COVID-19 science advisory table released new modelling that indicated cases are rising substantially, even without Omicron. While Ontario’s ICUs are stable at the moment, severe cases are expected to increase due to a jump in COVID infections.
In a reopening plan released in late October, the province set Jan. 17 as the date for ending the proof of vaccination requirement at some settings such as gyms and restaurants.
However, amid a worsening COVID situation the province has not yet changed course on that. On Monday, Elliott said it would adjust the plan if it is needed.
Ontario reported 928 new cases on Tuesday with 165 patients currently in intensive care units due to a COVID-related illness.