Ontario will allow businesses such as restaurants, bars and fitness centres to start lifting COVID-19 capacity limits starting on Monday, a government source told CBC News.
The senior government official, who was not authorized to speak publicly and spoke to CBC News on condition of anonymity, said Premier Doug Ford’s cabinet approved the changes on Thursday.
Ford is scheduled to hold a news conference alongside Dr. Kieran Moore, Ontario’s chief medical officer of health, at 2 p.m. ET to reveal further details of the plan. You can watch it live in this story.
The source said Ford and his ministers are making the move after Moore was satisfied there wasn’t a surge in infections after the recent holiday weekend.
“Dr. Moore said last week he wanted to see the impact of Thanksgiving,” the source said.
“With the incubation period now over and no increase in cases, we are confident we can proceed with our phased plan to safely reopen.”
Ontario has been at Step 3 of what the government calls its “Roadmap to Reopen” since mid-July. Last Wednesday, CBC News reported the province’s strategy for lifting pandemic restriction would be unveiled this week.
Ford has said the new plan will provide a long-term vision, and will involve applying any new restrictions in tailored and localized ways with the aim of avoiding further shutdowns.
Currently, fitness centres in Ontario are limited to 50 per cent capacity. At restaurants and bars, capacity is also limited to ensure patrons of different groups maintain a distance of two metres.
The official said the plan will also signal when physical distancing and capacity limits can be lifted in settings where proof of vaccination is not required, such as places of worship.
Despite the recent holiday weekend and students recently heading back to school for in-person classes, the pandemic continues to recede in Ontario. The seven-day average of new daily cases has been falling since Sept. 5 and now stands at 406, while the burden on hospitals has remained relatively steady.