The Ontario and Quebec governments have announced their plans for a phased approach to lifting restrictions, the first of which will see indoor dining in the provinces, along with PEI, to reopen on Monday, January 31. Meanwhile, other provinces and territories have implemented stricter public health measures or announced an extension of restrictions in response to COVID-19 trends in their area. Here’s what food businesses need to know.
Ontario plans to implement a phased approach to lifting restrictions, with the first phase beginning on Monday, January 31:
- Restaurant dining rooms, bars, movie theatres, meeting and event spaces, retailers, casinos, bingo halls, gyms, museums, galleries, zoos and similar attractions can open at 50 percent capacity.
- Spectator areas for concert venues and arenas can open at 50 percent capacity or up to 500 people, whichever is less.
- Social gatherings of up to 10 people are permitted indoors, and 25 people outdoors.
- Mask and proof of vaccination requirements remain in place.
The province plans to ease additional restrictions on February 21:
- Removing capacity limits on indoor spaces where proof of vaccination is required to enter.
- Allowing sports, concerts and similar venues to operate at up to 50 percent spectator capacity.
- Social gatherings of up to 25 people are permitted indoors, and 100 people outdoors.
- For indoor spaces where proof of vaccination is not required to enter, capacity will be limited to the number of people who can maintain two metres of physical distance.
- Allowing indoor “high-risk settings” such as nightclubs, wedding receptions and event spaces with dancing to operate at 25 percent capacity.
Most remaining public health measures are planned to be lifted on March 14:
- Capacity limits will be lifted for indoor public spaces, indoor social gatherings of up to 50 people, religious services, rites and ceremonies. There will be no person limits for outdoor social gatherings.
- Proof of vaccination and masking requirements will remain in place.
The timeline for lifting restrictions could be changed based on health indicators and COVID-19 trends in the province.
In Quebec, stricter proof of vaccination measures have been put in place while other restrictions will be lifted starting Monday, January 31.
- Proof of vaccination is now required to enter liquor, cannabis and big box stores with floor surfaces over 1,500 square metres. This does not apply to stores that primarily sell essential goods such as grocery stores and pharmacies.
- The 10 pm to 5 am curfew is no longer in place, and stores are now permitted to open for Sunday shopping.
- On Monday, January 31, restaurants may reopen for indoor dining with a capacity limit of 50 percent. Tables are limited to four people from two bubbles and vaccine passports are still required. Private indoor gatherings are also permitted with a maximum of four people from two bubbles.
- On February 7, the province plans to allow cultural venues such as cinemas and concert halls to reopen at 50 percent capacity to a maximum of 500 people. Places of worship can reopen at 50 percent capacity to a maximum of 250 people. Proof of vaccination will still be required.
Prince Edward Island
After implementing additional public health measures to help curb the spread of the virus, the province now plans to ease certain restrictions early next week. As of Monday, January 31:
- In-room dining at restaurants can resume at 50 percent capacity with a maximum of 10 people per table and six feet distancing between tables. Standing receptions where food and drink are served, dance floors and karaoke are not permitted.
- Organized gatherings are permitted for one cohort of 50 people plus staff, given that physical distancing of people in different households is implemented. This applies to theatres, concerts, cinemas, wedding ceremonies and funeral services. Wedding and funeral receptions are not permitted.
- Personal gatherings are permitted with a steady, consistent maximum of 10 people.
- Retail, museums, libraries and other businesses can operate at 50 percent capacity with physical distancing measures in place.
- Recreational activities and sport team practices are permitted for up to 20 consistent individuals. Fitness facilities can operate at 50 percent capacity with physical distancing measures in place.
- Masks are mandatory at indoor events even with physical distancing measures in place.
- The province’s Vax Pass program will remain in place for discretionary events and activities.
Other Provinces & Territories
In British Columbia, gyms and fitness centres across the province are now permitted to open while bans on indoor organized gatherings like wedding and funeral receptions are extended until February 16. The province’s vaccine passport system, which was originally set to expire on January 31, has been extended to June 30.
In Yukon, all private and public gatherings are now restricted to 10 people or two vaccinated households. Bars and restaurants remain limited to a maximum of six people per table and must close by 10 pm, although they may continue to provide take-out services.