According to a media announcement by the Doug Ford government, the province of Ontario will be shutting down live music venues, in-person dining, and imposing other restrictions as the result of the rapidly rising Omicron variant.
The province is calling it a temporary move to a “modified Step Two of the Roadmap to Reopen”. Specifically, the measures impose restrictions become effective Wednesday, January 5, 2022 at 12:01 a.m. for a period of at least 21 days – meaning the earliest date for reopening will be January 26, 2022.
The new measures
The new-old measures include a string of restrictions designed to curb person-to-person contact. Live events and in-person dining are suspended, with indoor gathering limited to five people.
- Social gatherings limited to five people indoors and 10 people outdoors;
- Organized public events limited to five people indoors;
- Closing indoor concert venues, theatres, cinemas, rehearsals and recorded performances permitted with restrictions;
- It seems that bars will be allowed to stay open, with alcohol sales restricted after 10 p.m.;
- Closing indoor dining at restaurants, bars and establishments, with outdoor dining (with restrictions), takeout, drive through and delivery permitted.
Kids will be back to online schooling until at least January 17, and working from home is back on the menu too. The full list of restrictions can be found here.
The Omicron difference
It’s true that the evidence seems to say that infection by the Omicron variant is less severe than its nightmare cousin Delta. However, it also seems to be much more highly transmissible, meaning even with a low rate of hospitalization, a higher rate of infection will still overwhelm medical infrastructure.
“While the risks for severe illness are lower with Omicron than with the previous variants of concern, it is far more transmissible and hospitalizations are expected to continue to increase placing greater pressure on our health system,” said Dr. Kieran Moore, Chief Medical Officer of Health in a media release.
It’s the speed at which it is racing through Ontario’s population that is the problem.
“As we continue with our provincial vaccine booster efforts, we must look at every option to slow the spread of the highly contagious Omicron variant,” said Premier Doug Ford. “Putting these targeted and time-limited measures in place will give us more opportunity to deliver vaccines to all Ontarians and ensure everyone has maximum protection against this virus.”
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