Ontario Premier Doug Ford, Health Minister Christine Elliott, and other provincial officials recently announced in a press conference that the mask requirements and proof of vaccination are set to be lifted by March 2022.
This lifting of restrictions is in line with the province’s “Roadmap to Reopen,” which aims to gradually and safely lift public health measures based on the ongoing progress of province-wide vaccination rates and improvements of critical public health and health care indicators.
The recently held press conference also discussed the strategies that will be applied by the province regarding the secure reopening of Ontario while keeping the risk of COVID-19 infection in check. One of the announcements during the event was the possible lifting of the proof of vaccination requirement on January 17, 2022, in handpicked venues.
However, it was emphasized that this would only push through if there are no “concerning” trends like rising COVID-19 test-positive cases across the region, especially high hospital admission rates due to the virus. If the province will sustain the current figures, officials assured that bingo halls, casinos, and other gaming establishments, sports and recreational facilities, restaurants, and bars would not require patrons to present proof of vaccination anymore. In addition, the capacity restrictions for Ontario bars and restaurants have already been lifted as of October 25.
“If we don’t see the numbers in a stable place, we just aren’t going to do it,” Premier Doug Ford shared. “It’s as simple as that.” Additionally, if the statistics improve even more in the next few months, face coverings will no longer be required in indoor public venues on March 28, 2022.
Ford also stressed that closely keeping an eye on the current and possible future trends may be tedious, but being and staying cautious is crucial during this pandemic. “We have always been cautious,” he explained when asked about the overall plan of the province concerning the balancing of the restrengthening of the economy while keeping COVID-19 at bay. “I’m going to be super cautious,” he reiterated.
“Our plan will ensure we replicate this success and take a gradual approach that will protect our health system capacity, prevent widespread closures, keep our schools open, and support the province’s economic recovery,” Health Minister Elliott pointed out. She added that ever since the pandemic began, “Ontario has taken a cautious approach to reopening to protect the health and safety of Ontarians.”