Ontario’s casinos, bingo halls and other gaming establishments will soon be able to welcome customers once again as the provincial government has permitted them to reopen from the end of January. This forms part of stage one of the province’s three-step plan to contribute to the fight against the spread of COVID-19.
This move comes in the wake of the province reporting indications of improvement in public health and health system indicators, as well as dropping positivity percentages, reductions in hospital admissions, and overall shorter lengths of stay at health facilities.
The change is set to take place on January 31, 2022, at 12:01 am, a date that will also see social gathering limits set at 10 people indoors and 25 outdoors and capacity limits of 50% for indoor public settings.
In addition to gambling venues, other properties like restaurants, bars, retailers, non-spectator sports and recreational fitness facilities, and other meeting and event spaces will also have to adhere to these limits. Enhanced proof of vaccination, along with other existing requirements will also remain in place.
Ontario Premier, Doug Ford, commented on this new development, saying,
“The evidence tells us that the measures we put in place to blunt transmission of Omicron are working. 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.”
As part of stage two, more public health measures are expected to be lifted on February 21, 2022, with the implementation of stage three planned for March 14, 2022.
“Thanks to the sacrifices of Ontarians we are starting to see glimmers of hope. However we know the coming weeks will continue to pose challenges, especially for our hospital partners,” Christine Elliott, the deputy premier and minister of health said.
“As we continue to chart our path forward, we will continue to take a gradual and cautious approach to lifting public health measures to protect our hospital capacity, and ensure patients can continue to access the care they need,” she concluded.