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Kingston, Ont. businesses eager for COVID-19 restrictions to ease

Click to play video: 'Capacity limits lifted where vaccine passport is required'
Capacity limits lifted where vaccine passport is required
The province has begun to ease COVID-19 restrictions – Feb 17, 2022

Ontario moved into the next phase of reopening Thursday, four days ahead of schedule. Capacity limits have been lifted in most settings requiring the COVID-19 vaccine passport, including restaurants, gyms and theatres.

“It’s been really hard just maintaining being able to pay my bills, that’s been the toughest part,” Brittany Langford, manager of the Copper Penny restaurant, said. “It’s going to be so nice to not have to worry about that stuff anymore and to get to work with people again. I feel like I don’t work with people anymore. It’s going to be great.”

But the next phase of reopening doesn’t mean it’s back to normal just yet for some hard-hit hospitality businesses.

Heather MacArthur is a wedding planner and says her clients are cautiously optimistic about this year’s wedding season.

Read more: Kingston, Ont. businesses celebrate Valentine’s Day

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“They’re hopeful that the venue that they have booked will be able to host the full capacity,” MacArthur said.

A capacity limit of 25 per cent is still in place for wedding venues and businesses that allow for dancing.

“They really want that social interaction with everybody so I think that’s the key thing is getting the numbers closer to full capacity and being able to dance at the same time.”

Capacity at sports venues, like Leon’s Centre, will also be capped at 50 per cent, which the Kingston Frontenacs say will allow 2,800 people to attend games,

Ontario’s medical officer of health says 90 per cent of Ontarians 12 and up have had at least two doses of the COVID-19  vaccine, which puts the province in a good place should a new variant emerge.

Click to play video: 'Video shows Kingston police officer kneeing, punching a man during an altercation'
Video shows Kingston police officer kneeing, punching a man during an altercation

“I don’t think — and I’ve had conversations with those experts at the science table — that we’ll have a significant rebound in activity or impact on our health-care system,” Ontario chief medical officer of health Dr. Kieran Moore said. “I do think the worst is behind us.”

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Ontario’s vaccine passport will be eliminated March 1 and the masking mandate will be reviewed in early March as restrictions slowly lift and are being monitored.

“We’ve had two years of the messaging being ‘don’t go out, you could catch COVID, stay safe.’ Now to say everything is fine, it may be hard for some people to get over that anticipated anxiety,” Queen’s University associate professor in clinical psychology Allyson Harrison said.

As we return to a more pre-COVID-19 world, the advice from psychology experts is to move at a pace you’re comfortable with.

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