Ontario cuts indoor collection limits and restaurant hours as Omicron generates new COVID-19 infections

It will be a smaller, quieter Christmas season thanks to a Grinch named Omicron.

Starting Sunday, Ontario’s indoor social gathering limit will be lowered from 25 to 10, and outdoors from 100 to 25, with a 50 percent indoor capacity limit for all restaurants and bars, which must be close at 11 pm

All food and drink service at sporting events, concerts, plays and cinemas will be prohibited due to the spread of the latest variant of COVID-19.

Prime Minister Doug Ford made the bleak Christmas announcement Friday afternoon at Queen’s Park.

“Throughout this entire pandemic, we have never faced an enemy like Omicron, given how quickly it is spreading,” Ford said.

“We need to do everything we can to slow its spread as we continue to dramatically increase the capacity to get as many booster shots to the arms as possible. Doing so is the best way to safeguard our hospital and intensive care units, ”he said.

To that end, there will be medium capacity limits at all outlets, including grocery stores and pharmacies, as well as shopping centers and personal care services such as barber shops, hair salons, and nail salons.

Restaurants and bars will not be able to sell alcohol after 10 pm Customers must remain seated and dancing will not be allowed.

“This was not an easy decision to make before the holidays, but the evidence is clear that more public health measures are required to curb the spread of Omicron and prevent our hospitals from being overwhelmed,” said the Minister of Health, Christine Elliott.

“As we expand eligibility for the booster and continue our Team Ontario effort to get as many vaccines as possible, I urge everyone to get vaccinated if they haven’t already done so, and sign up to receive their vaccine from reinforcement asap. as possible, ”he said.

The new measures are in addition to 50 percent capacity limits for arenas, stadiums, concert halls and other venues that can accommodate more than 1,000 people and an intensified booster dose campaign was announced Wednesday. Authorizes those over 18 years of age to receive the third injection from Monday, provided that at least 84 days have passed after the second dose.

On Thursday, more than 156,000 doses of vaccines were administered, with a capacity increased from 200,000 to 300,000 in the coming days.

Ford’s additional restrictions follow a request Thursday from the science board for the “circuit breaker” restrictions to mitigate Omicron’s surge by limiting person-to-person contact. The strain spreads through the air more easily than previous variants, making it the most contagious variant yet.

Ontario reported 3,124 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday. That’s the highest level since early May, double the level of a week ago and almost triple the 1,053 recorded two weeks ago.

At this rate, the province’s one-day record of 4,812 new infections set on April 16 will be surpassed in a few days amid concerns that rising levels of infection could flood hospital intensive care units. in january.

However, hospital admissions for COVID-19 patients and intensive care unit occupancy remain within capacity for now, although hospitalizations have risen to 358 patients as of Friday from 309 the same day last week. .

There were 157 COVID-19 patients in intensive care on Friday.

The scientific table has predicted that cases could reach 10,000 daily before the end of the month if no further action is taken and warned that action must be taken quickly because Omicron is doubling every other day.

Meanwhile, health experts have called on Ontarians to step up their masking habits by wearing tight-fitting masks with at least two layers that eliminate gaps. Simple, single-layer cloth masks are not recommended.

Robert Benzie is the bureau chief for Star’s Queen’s Park and a reporter covering Ontario politics. Follow him on Twitter: @robertbenzie


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