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Ontario Introduces Plan to Lift Capacity Limits and Public Health Measures, Incorporating TIAO Recommendations

Beginning October 25th, 2021, Ontario will be removing capacity limits where proof of vaccination is required. This will include settings like restaurants, bars, sports facilities, casinos, and indoor meeting and event spaces, which will be able to operate at 100% capacity as of October 25. The physical distancing requirement between patrons and the 2m distancing requirement between tables at restaurants and event spaces will also be removed as of Monday.  

Other settings/businesses will be permitted to reopen at 100% indoor capacity if they decide to “Opt-in” to the proof of vaccination certificate program. This ‘opt-in’ option is in direct response to TIAO’s latest advocacy and recommendations regarding reopening parity (read our letter here). Businesses that do not “opt-in", face gradual reopening between January and March 2022 when the vaccine passport is gradually rescinded. Businesses and organizations can choose to: 

  1. Require patrons to show proof of vaccination in order to lift all indoor capacity and physical distancing requirements in their settings OR 

  1. Not require patrons to show proof of vaccination and continue to operate with their current indoor Step 3 capacity and physical distancing limits 

Businesses or organization can choose to “opt-in” to the vaccine certificate program on a frequency of their choice including daily (except for religious services, rites, or ceremonies which will be event specific). Businesses who “opt-in” to the vaccine certificate program will also be able to remove the physical distancing requirement.  

Active screening is still in place for settings with full capacity, as well as contact tracing. There will be a signage requirement for “opt-in” settings as they will be required to notify patrons that they are participating in the proof of vaccination certificate program (this needs to be made clear at the business’s point of entry).  

TIAO thanks the Government of Ontario and especially Premier Ford and Minister Lisa MacLeod for actively considering our feedback on reopening parity across tourism sectors and swiftly responding. TIAO welcomes today’s announcement as a major step forward for tourism’s recovery in Ontario. 

Please note, Step 3 outdoor capacity limits remain the same and retail businesses will not be able to “opt-in” to proof of vaccination certificate program – they will remain at Step 3.  

Below is the outline for the lifting of measures from Fall 2021 to Spring 2022 with the intention for all regulated measures to be lifted no later than March 28, 2022.  

As of October 25th, 2021 

Removing capacity limits where proof of vaccination is required, this includes: 

  • Restaurants and bars; 

  • Sports and recreational fitness facilities; waterparks, and physical fitness training; 

  • Casinos, bingo halls, and other gaming establishments; and 

  • Meeting and indoor event spaces 

Other settings will be permitted to remove capacity limits if they require (I.e., opt-in to) proof of vaccination, including but not limited to: 

  • Locations where a wedding, funeral, or religious service or rite or ceremony takes place 

  • Personal care services (e.g., barber shops, salons, body art) 

  • Indoor areas of museums, galleries, aquariums, zoos, science centres, landmarks, historic sites, botanical gardens and similar attractions (indoor only) 

  • Indoor areas or amusement parks 

  • Indoor areas of fairs, rural exhibitions, festivals 

  • Indoor tour and guide services 

  • Boat tours 

  • Indoor areas or marinas and boating clubs 

  • Indoor clubhouses at outdoor recreational amenities 

  • Open house events provided by real estate agencies 

  • Indoor areas of photography studios and services 

Full regulations regarding ‘opt-in’ settings and requirements are available here

As of November 11th, 2021 

Removing capacity limits in high-risk settings where proof of vaccination is required, this includes: 

  • Food or drink establishments with dance facilities (e.g., night clubs, wedding receptions in meeting and event spaces where there is dancing); 

  • Strip clubs; and 

  • Bathhouses and sex clubs 

As of November 15th, 2021 to January 12th, 2022 

  • The provincial government will review the impact of the winter holidays, returning to school in January, etc.  

Winter 2021-2022 

In the absence of concerning trends, Ontario will initiate gradual lifting of CMOH (Chief Medical Officer of Health) directives, capacity limits in settings where proof of vaccination is not required, and also lift vaccine certificate requirements as follows: 

As of January 17th, 2022 

  • Restaurants and bars 

  • Sports and recreational fitness facilities (e.g., gyms) and waterparks 

  • Casinos, bingo halls, etc. 

As of February 7th, 2022 

  • Night clubs 

  • Strip clubs 

  • Bathhouses and sex clubs 

As of March 28th, 2022 

  • Meeting and event spaces 

  • Sporting events 

  • Concerts, theatres and cinemas 

  • Racing venues 

  • Commercial and film productions with studio audiences  

March 28th, 2022 and onwards  

  • All remaining public health and workplace safety measures in businesses and organizations lifted, including masking 

  • Revoke public health Emergency Orders under the Reopening Ontario Act 

  • Release guidance for specific settings if appropriate 

Ontario will continue monitor key public health and health system indicators to identify changes that pose risk to Ontarians.  

To learn more about Ontario’s plan to reopen, please visit Ontario Releases Plan to Safely Reopen Ontario and Manage COVID-19 for the Long-Term | Ontario Newsroom