By Darren Lum
Ontario is scrapping its proof-of-vaccination system as of March 1 and has moved up the second stage of the province’s reopening plan by four days on Feb. 17.
Premier Doug Ford, who made the announcement during a press conference at Queen’s Park on Monday, said capacity limits will be lifted in all settings where a proof of vaccination is required, including restaurants and cinemas.
Businesses can maintain mandates, and masking requirements will remain in place. Proof-of-vaccination will still be a requirement for visitors and staff at long-term care facilities. Any further restrictions will be determined by local public health units.
Ford said these latest measures are not the result of the occupation in Ottawa or the border blockade in Windsor.
“Today’s announcement is not because of what’s happening in Ottawa, or Windsor, but despite it,” he said.
The exception to the end of capacity limits will be sporting venues, concert venues and theatres, which will have capacity limits increased to 50 per cent. The province will allow social gatherings of 50 people indoors and 100 people outdoors. Capacity limits for other indoor public settings, which includes grocery stores, pharmacies and retail stores, will remain the same or be increased to the number of people who can stay two meters apart.
The provincial vaccine certificate system, requiring people to show proof of receiving two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine to enter a non-essential business was launched in September.