Ontario releases long-term COVID-19 reopening plan: What it means for Windsor-Essex
Windsor-Essex restaurants, gyms and Caesars Windsor will be free from capacity limits with fully vaccinated patrons on Monday when Ontario transitions out of Step 3 of the province’s reopening plan.
Premier Doug Ford, Health Minister Christine Elliott and Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Kieran Moore announced Ontario’s plan to safely reopen and manage COVID-19 for the long term at a news conference at 2 p.m. Friday afternoon.
Capacity restrictions for restaurants, gyms and casinos in Ontario will be lifted on Monday effective October 25, 2021 at 12:01 a.m. Proof of vaccination of COVID-19 is required for eligible residents.
Acting medical officer of health for Windsor-Essex Dr. Shanker Nesathurai said earlier this week they will be following the provincial plan and helping explain the changes to residents and businesses.
“We try to provide the best possible guidance that we can related to the location situation to the people of Windsor-Essex as well,” said Nesathurai.
The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit released it’s local epidemiological summary on Thursday, showing improvement in key indicators.
Key dates for Ontario’s reopening plan:
Oct. 25, 2021
Effective Oct. 25, 2021 at 12:01 a.m., Ontario will lift capacity limits in the vast majority of settings where proof of vaccination are required, such as restaurants, bars and other food or drink establishments; indoor areas of sports and recreational facilities such as gyms and where personal physical fitness trainers provide instruction; casinos, bingo halls and other gaming establishments; and indoor meeting and event spaces. Limits will also be lifted in certain outdoor settings.
At this time, the government will also allow other settings to lift capacity limits and physical distancing requirements if they choose to require proof of vaccination, including:
- 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 areas of amusement parks;
- Indoor areas of fairs, rural exhibitions, festivals;
- Indoor tour and guide services;
- Boat tours;
- Indoor areas of marinas and boating clubs;
- Indoor clubhouses at outdoor recreational amenities;
- Open house events provided by real estate agencies; and
- Indoor areas of photography studios and services.
Locations where a wedding, funeral or religious service, rite or ceremony takes place may also implement proof of vaccination requirements for services, rites, or ceremonies at the location.
This will not apply to settings where people receive medical care, food from grocery stores and medical supplies. In addition, the government intends to allow for greater capacity at organized public events such as Remembrance Day ceremonies and Santa Claus parades with more details coming in the near future.
Nov. 15, 2021
The government intends to lift capacity limits in the remaining higher-risk settings where proof of vaccination is required, including food or drink establishments with dance facilities (e.g., night clubs, wedding receptions in meeting/event spaces where there is dancing); strip clubs, bathhouses and sex clubs.
Jan. 17, 2022
In the absence of concerning trends in public health and health care following the winter holiday months and after students returned to in-class learning, the province intends to begin gradually lifting capacity limits in settings where proof of vaccination is not required. The Chief Medical Officer of Health will also lift CMOH directives as appropriate.
Proof of vaccination requirements may also begin to be gradually lifted at this time, including for restaurants, bars and other food and drink establishments, facilities used for sports and recreational facilities and casinos, bingo halls and other gaming establishments.
Feb. 7, 2022
The government intends to lift proof of vaccination requirements in high-risk settings, including night clubs, strip clubs, and bathhouses and sex clubs.
March 28, 2022
The province says at this time, it is intended that remaining public health and workplace safety measures will be lifted, including wearing face coverings in indoor public settings. Recommendations may be released for specific settings, if appropriate.
In addition, the provincial requirement for proof of vaccination will be lifted for all remaining settings, including meeting and event spaces, sporting events, concerts, theatres and cinemas, racing venues and commercial and film productions with studio audiences.
To manage COVID-19 over the long-term, local and regional responses by public health units will be deployed based on local context and conditions.
‘LONG TIME COMING’
Windsor’s Turbo Espresso Bar owner Renaldo Agostino says he’s happy to finally see capacity limits removed.
“It think it’s been a long time coming and we’re really excited to see it happen and I think society’s really happy to see the end of the tunnel when it comes to COVID,”says Agostino.
He hopes it’s a sign that the pandemic is almost over.
“Knock on wood, this is the last of almost a two-year journey that we are glad is over,” he says.
Agostino adds the continual changes in restrictions has been hard on local businesses.
“It’s been ups and downs, it’s been heartache and loss, it’s been joy it’s been celebration, back to heartache again,” says Agostino.
With files from CTV Windsor's Rich Garton.