Ontario, the lifting of anti-Covid-19 restrictions kicks off tomorrow
TORONTO – As expected, on Friday Doug Ford presented the plan that will decree Ontario’s exit from Phase 3 with the revocation of all remaining public health measures, including the green pass and the obligation of indoor masks by March 2022. The first step towards pre-Covid-19 normality comes into force tomorrow: capacity limits are no longer in most facilities where proof of vaccination is required, including restaurants, sports facilities and indoor gyms, casinos, bingo halls and indoor spaces for meetings and events. Places of worship, museums, and personal care facilities such as barbershops and salons can also eliminate capacity limits if they require proof of vaccination.
During the press conference, Chief Medical Officer of Health Keiran Moore and Health Minister Christine Elliott specified that the removal of the measures will take place “slowly and gradually” over the next six months and will be guided by continuous monitoring of the main health indicators. Indicators to which great attention must be paid include the arrival of new variants of Covid-19, the number of people in hospital and intensive care with the disease and a possible rapid increase in disease transmission in the province.
“The months to come will require continued vigilance, as we do not want to cause further unnecessary upheaval to people’s daily lives – said Ford – everything possible will be done to avoid large lockdowns”.
After tomorrow’s revocation of some measures, the chronology with which the following stages will take place is as follows:
November 15: the government plans to revoke the capacity limits in the remaining higher-risk environments where proof of vaccination is required, including nightclubs, wedding receptions in spaces where dancing, strip clubs, bathing establishments and sex clubs.
January 17: Assuming Christmas holidays don’t contribute to any “troubling trend,” the plan is to increase capacity limits in places where proof of vaccination is not required. At the same time, the vaccination certificate can also be revoked for restaurants, bars and sports facilities.
February 7: The province plans to cancel the vaccination certificate to access high-risk environments, including night clubs, strip clubs, bathing establishments and sex clubs.
March 28: Ontario plans to eliminate mask requirements in indoor public spaces, as well as remove the green pass requirement for all remaining spaces. Capacity limits and public health measures could be reintroduced locally to manage Covid-19 as needed.
“At that point,” Moore said, “it is hoped that enough Ontario residents will be immunized, including children between the ages of five and 11, so that the virus cannot find hosts in which to reproduce.”
Asked if the obligation to use the mask will be lifted by March also for schools, Ford did not respond explicitly, stating that all decisions will be dictated by the key indicators and advice of the chief medical officer of health of the province.
And while the Ontario Science Advisory Table believes that the fourth wave of the pandemic in the province is decreasing “beyond expectations” and therefore it is possible to ease the restrictions that have accompanied us for over a year, the Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario does not hide its concerns: the government’s plan puts at risk the progress made by the province – it says – especially since some restrictions are relaxed precisely as winter approaches.