The Ontario government announced on Thursday that it would be lifting various COVID-19 restrictions over the next two months but made no mention of ending vaccine passports or masking.
“The evidence tells us that the measures we put in place to blunt transmission of Omicron are working,” said Ontario Premier Doug Ford in a press release. “We can be confident that the worst is behind us and that we are now in a position to cautiously and gradually ease public health measures.”
According to the press release, Ontario will take a phased approach to ending COVID-19 restrictions, with 21 days between each step.
The first phase, set to begin on Jan. 31 includes increasing social gathering limits to 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors; requiring places such as bars, restaurants and gyms to operate at 50% capacity; and allowing sport and concert venues to operate at 500 people.
The second phase, set to commence on Feb. 21, will see increased social gathering limits of 25 people indoors and 100 people outdoors; capacity limits removed at places such as bars, restaurants and gyms; and sport and concert venues allowed to operate at 50% capacity.
The third phase, starting on March 14, will see social gathering limits of 50 people indoors with no limits for outdoors and capacity limits lifted in any remaining indoor public settings.
People will continue to be required to show vaccine passports with QR codes and wear masks during all three phases, according to the press release.
Ontario’s original reopening plan would have seen vaccine passports start to be lifted on Jan. 17, with the mask mandate ending on March 28.
True North journalist Andrew Lawton mocked the Ontario government for opening public spaces without removing the passports.
“To recap, the vaccine passports that didn’t make restaurants and cinemas safe enough (in government’s view) to avoid being shut down in the first place will remain in place when these venues are deemed safe enough to reopen at full capacity,” said Lawton. “Got it.”