Here’s a breakdown of Ontario’s current response to COVID-19

From isolation testing, there have been a lot of changes – here’s an overview of the restrictions and other things you need to know

From back to school, from testing to isolation changes – there have been a lot of changes in COVID-19 guidelines in Ontario.

The highly contagious variant of Omicron has resulted in a record number of daily cases in the province. With the province’s testing capacity overwhelmed, Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Kieran Moore has announced changes to who can get tested this week.

The new approach, he said, is to focus on testing and managing cases and contacts in high-risk settings.

Here’s a look at the situation in Ontario today:

To go out

  • Social gatherings are limited to 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors.
  • Restaurants, malls, grocery stores, drugstores, gyms and more are open. For indoor public places, there is a 50 percent capacity limit. The limits do not apply to areas of the business used for a wedding, funeral or church service, rite or ceremony.
  • For high risk indoor environments such as gyms and restaurants, proof of vaccination is required.
  • There is a maximum number of 10 people per table in restaurants or meeting and event spaces. People are required to remain seated. Dancing and singing are not allowed unless you are a worker or an artist.
  • No food or drink may be sold at sporting events, concerts, theaters, cinemas, casinos, bingo halls and other gaming establishments.
  • Alcohol sales are restricted after 10 p.m.
  • Capacity limits in arenas or concert halls are limited to 50% of the seating capacity or 1,000 people, whichever is less.

Long-term care homes

  • General visitors are not permitted to enter long-term care homes. Designated caregivers are allowed to continue entering the facilities.
  • Daily absences for social purposes are suspended for all residents.
  • When the break on the ski lift tour, visitors will need to show proof of a third dose of vaccine.
  • A fourth booster dose is now recommended for residents of long-term care homes, retirement homes, homes for the aged and collective care facilities three months (84 days) after their third dose.
  • Third doses are required by January 28 for all staff, students, volunteers, caregivers and support workers.

Earlier this month, the province implemented other changes, including testing fully immunized visitors and staff in long-term care homes and retirement homes.

Schools

  • Students will return on January 5, which is delayed by a few days for some tips.
  • The daily COVID-19 screening is being updated.
  • N95 masks will be available for staff in approved schools and daycares.
  • 3,000 additional stand-alone HEPA filtration units are being shipped to school boards.
  • Only low contact indoor sports and safe extracurricular activities are allowed.
  • For primary schools, the assemblies will be virtual only.
  • Lunches and indoor breaks will be limited to class cohorts when the distance between cohorts cannot be maintained.

Test

  • PCR testing is only available for people at high risk who are symptomatic of or at risk for serious illness from COVID-19. People with mild symptoms should not get tested.
  • If your rapid antigen test is positive, you no longer need to take a PCR test to confirm it.

Isolation

  • The isolation period for those vaccinated, children under 12 and family contacts has fallen to five days from the onset of symptoms. Non-family contacts self-monitor for 10 days.
  • There is a 10 day isolation period for unvaccinated, partially vaccinated or immunocompromised people.
  • Healthcare workers can return to work after being isolated for seven days. They will have to undergo a negative PCR or a rapid antigen test provided by the province.

Vaccination

  • Vaccines are open to all Ontarians five years of age and older.
  • Booster shots are open to all Ontarians 18 years of age and over.

Proof of vaccination

To travel to non-essential and high-risk indoor locations such as restaurants or a gym, proof of vaccination is required. The full list of affected locations is available here.

  • As of January 4, enhanced vaccine certificate with QR code and ID is required. Businesses must also use the Verify Ontario app
  • The certificate with the QR code can be downloaded here. You will need your Medicare card to access it. A digital or printed copy of the certificate must be accepted.
  • A QR code will also be required for medical exemptions and clinical trial exemptions. As of January 10, doctor’s notes will no longer be accepted as part of the proof of vaccination system.
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