After a severe increase of COVID-19 cases, and the concern of the Omicron variant has overtaken the province, this has led the Ontario government to implement further health measures ahead of the holiday season.

“Throughout this entire pandemic, we’ve never faced an enemy like Omicron given how quickly it spreads,” said Premier Doug Ford. “We need to do everything we can to slow its spread as we continue to dramatically ramp up capacity to get as many booster shots into arms as possible. Doing so is the best way to safeguard our hospital and intensive care units.”

Ontario Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Kieran Moore announced today that as of December 19, 2021, at 12:01 a.m. capacity limits of 50 percent will be implemented in indoor public settings such as restaurants, bars, gyms, pharmacies, grocery stores, and personal care services.

In addition, to mitigate COVID-19 transmission that can occur at informal social gatherings, the province is also reducing social gathering limits to 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors.

The province will also prohibit food or drink services in certain settings such as sporting events, concert venues, theaters and cinemas, casinos, bingo halls, and other gaming establishments and racing tracks.

A limit of only 10 people per table will be applied in restaurants, and meeting or event spaces, and be remained seated.

Bars and restaurants, meeting and event spaces, and strip clubs will be required to close by 11 p.m. Take-out and delivery will be permitted beyond 11 p.m.

Dancing will not be allowed except for workers or performers.

Food and/or drink services will be prohibited at sporting events; concert venues, theatres, and cinemas; casinos, bingo halls, and other gaming establishments; and horse racing tracks, car racing tracks, and other similar venues.

The sale of alcohol will be restricted after 10 p.m. and consumption of alcohol in businesses or settings after 11 p.m.

In addition, to mitigate COVID-19 transmission that can occur at informal social gatherings, the province is also reducing social gathering limits to 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors.

The government and the Chief Medical Officer of Health will continue to monitor trends in key public health and health care indicators, including emerging data on the Omicron variant, and will continue to take swift action to ensure the health and safety of Ontarians.

“The decision to limit people’s ability to gather, especially during the holidays, is an extremely, extremely difficult one to make. [And] I know these measures will have an impact on businesses during an important season for them," adds Ford. 

Still, Premier Ford says despite the rise in cases, no decision has been made yet on whether or not students will be returning to their classrooms early in the new year.

“I want to speak directly to the parents out there. I know you’re concerned about your kids’ schools and what to expect in the new year. I can tell you this, no decision has been made on what that looks like yet. We’re simply not in the position to say. The situation is evolving too quickly to know where we’ll be in early January.”