Ford to make announcement as sources say COVID-19 restrictions will be eased for restaurants and gyms

Ontario Premier Doug Ford is due to make an announcement Thursday morning on his government’s plan to begin lifting COVID-19 public health measures in the province.

Part of the changes will include restaurants and gyms being able to reopen at 50% capacity on January 31, government sources told Radio-Canada. Requirements for masking and passports for the COVID-19 vaccine will be in place, a source said.

Currently, food service establishments in Ontario are only permitted to offer take-out, drive-thru and delivery services. No inside service is allowed.

Ford is expected to be joined at the press conference by Health Minister Christine Elliott and Dr. Kieran Moore, Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health.

You can watch it live in this story at 11:30 a.m. ET.

Ford and Elliott have repeatedly suggested this week that the government will soon announce its intention to begin easing restrictions put in place on January 5, with the Omicron variant leading to an unprecedented increase in new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.

Speaking to the media at Queen’s Park yesterday, Ford said he would soon be making a ‘positive announcement’ for restaurants, gyms and ‘other people’.

Also yesterday, Elliott said Ontario is starting to see “glimmers of hope” in Omicron-related trends, with new cases expected to peak at some point in the coming weeks. Hospitalizations, which currently stand at more than 4,000, are expected to begin to decline in the coming weeks.

The rate of new hospital and intensive care admissions has started to slow, she said, while the average length of stay for those admitted is stabilizing.

Alongside Elliott, Moore said it looks like the restrictions put in place this month are at least helping to slow the spread of the virus.

In addition to restaurants that have been ordered closed for indoor dining, museums, zoos and other similar attractions have been closed, as have gymnasiums, indoor recreational facilities, cinemas and auditoriums. indoor concerts. Retail establishments and personal care services have been capped at 50% capacity.

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