Ontario announces new COVID restrictions just in time for Christmas

Starting just after midnight on December 20, Ontario is set to reintroduce numerous restrictions province-wide.

Ontario announces new COVID restrictions just in time for Christmas
The Canadian Press / Chris Young
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The new Advent lockdown, announced today by Ontario's Chief Medical Officer of Health Kieran Moore, is in response to the Omicron variant of COVID, though early data out of South Africa, where the strain was first identified, shows it to be more transmissible, but far less deadly.

According to the late afternoon Friday government announcement (that's how you know it's bad news), the new restrictions are meant to “reduce opportunities for close contact” and now limit to 50 per cent capacity:

  • Restaurants and bars
  • Strip clubs
  • Personal care services
  • Physical fitness trainers
  • Retailers and shopping malls
  • Areas of facilities used for sports and fitness activities, including gyms
  • Indoor recreational amenities
  • Indoor clubhouses
  • Tour and guide services
  • Photography studios
  • Marinas and boating clubs

The capacity limits, however, do not apply to places of business that are used for religious services, funerals or weddings, but applicable ceremonies must impose masking, distancing and other restrictions (because science).

Demonstrating just how deadly and punctual COVID is with its apparent tendency to attack at 11:05 p.m., Moore has also decried that restaurants, meeting and event spaces and strip clubs will be required to close at 11 p.m, though takeout will be allowed to continue past the time COVID comes out to play.

Alcohol sales will be restricted after 10 p.m., mimicking the town from Footloose — which was not a documentary but seems more like one every day — Ontario pub patrons will be required to remain seated and dancing will not be allowed, other than by workers or performers. Tables are limited to 10 patrons.

Beer and hotdogs at the rink are also off the menu. Food and drinks will not be permitted at sporting events, concerts, theatres, cinemas, casinos, gaming establishments, horse racing tracks, car racing tracks and other venues.

Christmas dinner is also getting a hard cap, so don't bother buying the big turkey even if supply chain issues permit you to find one. Indoor informal social gathering limits are being reduced to 10, and the outdoor limit is being reduced to 25.

All of the new restrictions take effect Sunday at 12:01 a.m. — just two days from now — which Ford said will give businesses time to adjust.

Ontario's vaccine passport system will also remain in place.

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