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Ontario to remove Vaccine Passport requirement March 1st, mask mandate remains

Photo: CBC

Ontario is moving up its timetable to ease COVID measures, with the next phase of measures being eased on February 17, 2022.

“Given how well Ontario has done in the Omicron wave we are able to fast track our reopening plan,” said Premier Doug Ford at a press conference held February 14th. Changes include eliminating the requirement for Ontarians to carry a Vaccine Passport to access specific locations such as restaurants and other businesses, although these businesses will have the option to require passports if they so choose.

Masking requirements remain unchanged.

Last month, Ontario released its plan to lift public health and workplace safety measures if health indicators continued to remain stable and improve. Positivity rates have fallen and new admissions to hospital and ICU have been declining week over week, signalling that the Omicron peak is over. Over the coming days and weeks, these trends are expected to continue, allowing the province to accelerate its timelines.

Effective February 17, 2022

Ontario will further ease public health measures, including, but not limited to:

  • Increasing social gathering limits to 50 people indoors and 100 people outdoors
  • Increasing organized public event limits to 50 people indoors, with no limit outdoors
  • Removing capacity limits in the following indoor public settings where proof of vaccination is required, including but not limited to:
    • Restaurants, bars and other food or drink establishments without dance facilities
    • Non-spectator areas of sports and recreational fitness facilities, including gyms
    • Cinemas
    • Meeting and event spaces, including conference centres or convention centres
    • Casinos, bingo halls and other gaming establishments
    • Indoor areas of settings that choose to opt-in to proof of vaccination requirements.
  • Allowing 50 per cent of the usual seating capacity at sports arenas
  • Allowing 50 percent of the usual seating capacity for concert venues and theatres
  • Increasing indoor capacity limits to 25 per cent in the remaining higher-risk settings where proof of vaccination is required, including nightclubs, restaurants where there is dancing, as well as bathhouses and sex clubs
  • Increasing capacity limits for indoor weddings, funerals or religious services, rites, or ceremonies to the number of people who can maintain two metres physical distance. Capacity limits are removed if the location opts-in to use proof of vaccination or if the service, rite, or ceremony is occurring outdoors.

Capacity limits in other indoor public settings, such as grocery stores, pharmacies, retail and shopping malls, will be maintained at, or increased to, the number of people who can maintain two metres physical distance.

Effective March 1, 2022

Ontario intends to take additional steps to ease public health measures if public health and health system indicators continue to improve. This includes lifting capacity limits in all remaining indoor public settings.

Ontario will also lift proof of vaccination requirements for all settings at this time. Businesses and other settings may choose to continue to require proof of vaccination. Masking requirements will remain in place at this time, with a specific timeline to lift this measure to be communicated at a later date.

To manage COVID-19 over the long-term, public health units can deploy local and regional responses based on local context and conditions.