Gyms, restaurants, theatres and retailers opening on Jan. 31 for Mississauga, Brampton, Hamilton, Halton, Niagara and Durham Region


Published January 20, 2022 at 11:38 am

Ontario restaurants, gyms, theatres and retailers will reopen at 50 per cent capacity starting Jan. 31 as the province starts lifting COVID-19 restrictions over the next few weeks.

The province will begin a gradual loosening of restrictions throughout the month of February, with Premier Doug Ford pushing for a full province-wide reopening in March.

Ford made the announcement on Thursday, just one day after Health Minister Christine Elliott said the province is seeing “glimmers of hope” in the fight against the rapidly spreading Omicron variant.

The province said it will begin “a cautious and phased approach” to reopening, and enhanced proof of vaccination and other requirements will continue to apply in existing settings when restrictions start to lift.

Ford said that “the worst is behind us” and the province is “in a position to cautiously and gradually ease public health measures.”

“While February will continue to present its own challenges, given current trends these are challenges we are confident we can manage,” he said.

The province closed restaurants to in-person dining on Jan. 5 and temporarily shuttered gyms while schools went back to remote learning. The restrictions were part of modified Step 2 measure in response to rapidly rising COVID-19 case counts and hospitalizations.

Private gatherings were limited to five people indoors and 10 outdoors.

The news comes as Ontario reported 4,061 people hospitalized with COVID-19 on Thursday, and Elliott said COVID-19 cases are expected to peak this month with hospitalizations and ICU admissions to follow. 

She said 55 per cent of those patients were admitted to the hospital for COVID-19, and the remaining 45 per cent were admitted “for other reasons but have tested positive” for the virus.

On Wednesday, 589 COVID-19 patients were in intensive care units.

The province reported 7,757 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, but health officials say case counts are likely an underestimate due to testing limitations and backlogs across Ontario.

Elliot said there have been more than 29,750,00 COVID-19 vaccine doses administered across Ontario, with over 104,000 doses administered on Wednesday alone.

Some 91.5 per cent of Ontarians over the age of 12 have received one dose, and 88.8 per cent have received two doses.

Here is Ontario’s current plan for reopening:

January 31, 2022

Setting capacity limits at 50 per cent in indoor public settings, including but not limited to:

  • Restaurants, bars and other food or drink establishments
  • Retailers (including grocery stores and pharmacies), shopping malls.
  • Non-spectator areas of sports and recreational fitness facilities, including gyms.
  • Cinemas.
  • Meeting and event spaces.
  • Recreational amenities and amusement parks, including water parks.
  • Museums, galleries, aquariums, zoos and similar attractions.
  • Casinos, bingo halls and other gaming establishments.
  • Religious services, rites, or ceremonies.
  • Increasing social gathering limits to 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors.
  • Allowing spectator areas of facilities such as sporting events, concert venues and theatres to operate at 50 per cent seated capacity or 500 people, whichever is less.

Enhanced proof of vaccination, and other requirements would continue to apply in existing settings.

February 21, 2022

  • Remove capacity limits in indoor public settings where proof of vaccination is required, including but not limited to restaurants, indoor sports and recreational facilities, cinemas, as well as other settings that choose to opt-in to proof of vaccination requirements.
  • Permitting spectator capacity at sporting events, concert venues, and theatres at 50 per cent capacity.
  • Limiting capacity in most remaining indoor public settings where proof of vaccination is not required to the number of people that can maintain two metres of physical distance.
  • Indoor religious services, rites or ceremonies limited to the number that can maintain two metres of physical distance, with no limit if proof of vaccination is required.
  • Increasing indoor capacity limits to 25 per cent in the remaining higher-risk settings where proof of vaccination is required, including nightclubs, wedding receptions in meeting or event spaces where there is dancing, as well as bathhouses and sex clubs.

Enhanced proof of vaccination, and other requirements would continue to apply in existing settings.

March 14, 2022

  • Lifting capacity limits in all indoor public settings. Proof of vaccination will be maintained in existing settings in addition to other regular measures.
  • Lifting remaining capacity limits on religious services, rites, or ceremonies.
  • Increase social gathering limits to 50 people indoors with no limits for outdoor gatherings.
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