Restrictions eased; vax passport gone March 1

By MPP Toby Barrett

Ontario will lift the proof of vaccination passport for all settings, as of March 1st.

Businesses and other settings may choose to continue to require proof of vaccination. For information, call the Stop the Spread Business Information Line at 1-888-444-3659.

At time of writing, masking requirements remain in place.

New admissions to hospital and ICU have been declining week over week, and positive test rates have fallen, signaling that the Omicron peak is behind us. Over the coming days and weeks, as these trends continue, the province will continue to ease restrictions.

The following measures are in effect:

  • Increasing social gathering limits to 50 people indoors and 100 outdoors
  • Increasing organized public event limits to 50 people indoors, with no limit outdoors
  • Removing capacity limits in the following indoor public settings
    • Restaurants, bars and other food or drink establishments
    • Non-spectator areas of sports and recreational fitness facilities, including gyms
    • Cinemas
    • Meeting and event spaces, including conference centers
    • Casinos, bingo halls and other gaming establishments
  • Allowing 50 per cent of the usual seating capacity at sports arenas
  • Allowing 50 percent of the usual seating capacity for concerts 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
  • Increasing capacity limits for indoor weddings, funerals or church services, to the number of people who can maintain two metres physical distance.

Capacity limits in grocery stores, pharmacies, retail and shopping malls are maintained at, six feet physical distance. As has always been the case, public health units can deploy local and regional responses based on local context and conditions.

To further support the province is easing of public health measures, Ontario is expanding access to free rapid tests, with 5.5 million rapid tests distributed each week for eight weeks through pharmacies, grocery stores, and community partners in vulnerable communities.

On January 17th, Health Canada approved the antiviral Paxlovid. Ontario received approximately 10,000 courses of treatment from the federal government in January, with additional allocations of more than 10,000 courses for February and 33,000 courses for March. Eligibility is currently focused on adults with the highest risk of severe outcomes.

In addition, February 18, 2022, Ontario expanded booster dose eligibility to youth aged 12 to 17. Appointments can be booked through the provincial booking system and the Provincial Vaccine Contact Centre, as well as at select pharmacies administering the Pfizer vaccine. Appointments will be booked for approximately six months after a second dose.

With the easing of restrictions, vaccinations remain important as they significantly lower mortality and morbidity. Go to In Ontario, 92 per cent have one dose and 90 per cent have two doses.

Toby Barrett is the MPP for Haldimand-Norfolk