This morning, we learned from Premier Ford that he is planning to remove the vaccine certificate program in Ontario on March 1. This decision is the wrong one, and frankly, I believe that Premier Ford has clearly caved to pressure from the anti-vax community.
As it stands right now, this is a scary move for parents of children under 5 years old, who are still not eligible to get vaccinated, as well as seniors and the immunocompromised. Beyond our most vulnerable, vaccine certificates give a level of assurance to everyone else, when they go to the movies or the gym, that the person sitting next to them has been fully vaccinated.
The fact is that vaccine certificates help us stay open. They help prevent local outbreaks, and they encourage people to get vaccinated. They bring a sense of safety in an uncertain time to our collective spaces, and their premature removal is clearly a short-sighted and politically motivated decision.
Starting this Thursday, February 17, capacity limits will be lifted in the following indoor spaces where proof of vaccination is required, including:
- Restaurants, bars and other food or drink establishments without dance facilities
- Non-spectator areas of sports and recreational fitness facilities, including gyms
- Meeting and event spaces, including conference centres or convention centres
- Casinos, bingo halls and other gaming establishments
- Indoor areas of settings that choose to opt-in to proof of vaccination requirements.
Other changes include:
- Increasing social gathering limits to 50 people indoors and 100 people outdoors
- Increasing organized public event limits to 50 people indoors, with no limit outdoors
- Allowing 50 per cent of the usual seating capacity at sports arenas
- Allowing 50 percent of the usual seating capacity for concert venues and theatres
- Increasing indoor capacity limits to 25 per cent in the remaining higher-risk settings where proof of vaccination is required, including nightclubs, restaurants where there is dancing, as well as bathhouses and sex clubs
- Increasing capacity limits for indoor weddings, funerals or religious services, rites, or ceremonies to the number of people who can maintain two metres physical distance. Capacity limits are removed if the location opts-in to use proof of vaccination or if the service, rite, or ceremony is occurring outdoors.
On March 1, Ontario will remove its mandatory vaccine certificate program, but mask mandates will remain in place. Along with that, the province is also on track to remove all remaining capacity limits as well.
Today, the federal government has invoked the Emergencies Act in response to the continued occupation of downtown Ottawa, and other spaces around the country. This is the first time that the act has been used since it was passed in 1988 and gives the federal government sweeping powers to take extraordinary steps in an “urgent and critical situation”.
In this case, the government has limited the invocation to Ottawa and other areas that currently have critical infrastructure being impacted by protestors. The federal government is planning to give more tools to police, expanding their abilities to issue fines and make arrests.
This news is still developing, and I’ll be sure to provide further update on this later in the week.
I would like to remind everyone that we are looking for nomination for our upcoming Toronto-St. Paul’s Community Awards. If you know a person, business, or organization that’s been going above and beyond for our community – make sure to get them nominated by February 24.
Finally, on February 28, from 1PM to 7:30PM there will be a vaccine clinic happening at the For Youth Initiative Space on Vaughan Road! For more details – check out the image below.