Ontario is set to lift all COVID-19 public health measures by the end of March, including health region mask mandates. Premier Ford made the case for an easing of restrictions citing the provinces 'careful' appreoach to re-opening and stability of daily case increases, hopsitalizations and ICU admissions.
We’re here because we stayed cautious,” Ford said. “We stayed disciplined and we never underestimated this virus. We look to other countries, other provinces, there could be no question that this was and is the right approach.”
Easing of public health restrictions will start Monday, as the province lifts capacity restrictions for restaurants, bars, gyms, casinos and other indoor meeting and event spaces. The Ontario government stressed that its proof-of-vaccination requirements are here to stay, for now, saying it would be removed 'early next year' for restaurants, bars, gyms and casinos, provided "trends don't become concerning."
Public health officials continue to assess key public health and health-system indicators to best prepare the province as it implements plans to ensure restrictions can be lifted safely.
Such plans potentially include the reintroduction of "targeted" and "local" measures to limit capacity, require social distancing, reducing gathering sizes and recommending/requiring non-essential workers work from home.
Premier Ford concurred with this assessment, saying he wants "to do everything possible to avoid broad lockdowns" and that "if any public heal measures need to be brought back in place" it would be done in a "localized way."
As cold weather approaches and more Ontarians spend more time indoors, there are some concerns that re-opening too quickly could cause another surge in cases. For now, however, the seven-day average of daily COVID-19 cases has remained stable.
Ontario reported 492 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, and 11 more deaths. Health Minister Christine Elliott said 325 of those cases are in people not fully vaccinated or whose vaccination status is unknown.