Ford government eases COVID-related restrictions on businesses

COVID closures

The province will ease restrictions for some businesses beginning later this month, Premier Doug Ford announced Thursday. 

As of Jan. 31, restaurants, cinemas and museums will be able to reopen at 50 per cent capacity. Retailers, including groceries and pharmacies, along with malls, sports facilities and gyms, cinemas, meeting and event spaces, amusement parks and museums, casinos and religious services, will be allowed to open at 50 per cent capacity limits.

Large venues such as hockey arenas, concert venues and theatres can operate at 50 per cent capacity or 500 people, whichever is less. The province’s vaccine passport system will remain in place.

“The evidence tells us that the measures we put in place to blunt transmission of Omicron are working,” Ford said in a news release. “We can be confident that the worst is behind us and that we are now in a position to cautiously and gradually ease public health measures. While February will continue to present its own challenges, given current trends these are challenges we are confident we can manage.”

The province plans further easing of restrictions in late February and into March.

Earlier this week, the province opened applications for the Ontario Business Costs Rebate Program to provide businesses with payments of up to 100 per cent of property tax and energy costs. 

The provincial government is also introducing a new COVID-19 small business relief grant of $10,000 to support businesses forced to temporarily shut their doors in the most recent closure.