Today, across Ontario, there are 4114 people hospitalized with COVID-19, 590 people in ICUs, and 64 more deaths as a result of the virus. Despite these troubling statistics, there are some positive signs that the Omicron induced wave of COVID-19 that we’re currently experiencing seems to be plateauing.
Wastewater analysis being conducted in our province appear to indicate that the rates of infection may have plateaued. While this is a positive development, it must also be said that while they have plateaued, the levels of the virus around Ontario remain high. Because of restrictions on PCR testing, the wastewater analysis that’s being performed is vital research to let us know about trends like these.
Yesterday, the Ontario government announced its most recent reopening plan, with major changes coming to restrictions on January 31, and further loosing of restrictions subsequently scheduled for February 21 and March 14.
First up, the changes scheduled to come into effect on January 31 include the following:
- Increasing social gathering limits to 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors.
- Increasing or maintaining capacity limits at 50 per cent in indoor public settings, including but not limited to:
- Restaurants, bars and other food or drink establishments without dance facilities;
- Retailers (including grocery stores and pharmacies)
- Shopping malls;
- Non-spectator areas of sports and recreational fitness facilities, including gyms;
- Meeting and event spaces;
- Recreational amenities and amusement parks, including water parks;
- Museums, galleries, aquariums, zoos and similar attractions; and
- Casinos, bingo halls and other gaming establishments
- Religious services, rites, or ceremonies.
- Allowing spectator areas of facilities such as sporting events, concert venues and theatres to operate at 50 per cent seated capacity or 500 people, whichever is less.
Along with these changes, enhanced proof of vaccination, and other existing requirements will remain in place in their current settings.
On February 21, further public health measures will be lifted including:
- Increasing social gathering limits to 25 people indoors and 100 people outdoors.
- Removing capacity limits in indoor public settings where proof of vaccination is required, including but not limited to restaurants, indoor sports and recreational facilities, cinemas, as well as other settings that choose to opt-in to proof of vaccination requirements.
- Permitting spectator capacity at sporting events, concert venues, and theatres at 50 per cent capacity.
- Limiting capacity in most remaining indoor public settings where proof of vaccination is not required to the number of people that can maintain two metres of physical distance.
- Indoor religious services, rites or ceremonies are limited to the number that can maintain two metres of physical distance, with no limit if proof of vaccination is required.
- Increasing indoor capacity limits to 25 per cent in the remaining higher-risk settings where proof of vaccination is required, including nightclubs, wedding receptions in meeting or event spaces where there is dancing, as well as bathhouses and sex clubs.
Finally, on March 14 further public health measures will be lifted including:
- Lifting capacity limits in all indoor public settings. Proof of vaccination will be maintained in existing settings in addition to other regular measures.
- Lifting remaining capacity limits on religious services, rites, or ceremonies.
- Increase social gathering limits to 50 people indoors with no limits for outdoor gatherings.
While these timelines have been announced by the province, it’s important to remember the caveat that they are subject to change depending on the state of the pandemic. In the past, we’ve seen timelines accelerated, delayed, and cancelled. So, while it’s useful to know what we’re working towards, I’ll be sure to keep our community posted on any changes as they arise.
Of course, in our battle with COVID-19, the best defense that we have are effective masks and vaccinations. On both these fronts, I want to encourage our community to wear a properly fitting mask, and make sure to get a full set of vaccinations, including your booster shot. If you’re looking for a site to get your vaccine, you can always book a vaccination through the provincial portal here, find a local pharmacy here, or attend one of the pop-up clinics that are happening around our community.
Speaking of pop-up vaccination clinics there will be a vaccination clinic operating at the York-Fairbank Centre for Seniors tomorrow and here are the details:
- Location: Fairbank Memorial Community Centre - 2213 Dufferin Street
- Time: 9AM to 4PM
- Eligibility: Age 12+ with postal code restriction.
- Must live, work, or go to school in the following postal codes.
M4P, M4S, M4V, M5P, M5R, M5V, M6A, M6B, M6C, M6E, M6G, M6H, M6K, M6M, M6N, or M6P.
Special VaxTO Campaign
As well, Toronto residents aged 50 years and older can get vaccinated on a walk-in basis at City Immunization Clinics on January 23 and 24. There are five locations across the City and you can find the information for them by clicking here.
Coming up on February 3, I am incredibly excited to be participating in the Skills for Change, Reels for Change event in collaboration with Hotdocs. I’ll be guest speaking alongside my partner Aisha Fairclough, as we watch and discuss her film, ‘Body Politics’ which follows me, and showcases my experiences working as a Member of Provincial Parliament.
If you’re interested in learning more or attending this free event, make sure to RSVP here.
Tomorrow afternoon, the Ontario Federation of Labour is organizing a phone zap, and email action to call for more support to protect workers and help the healthcare system in Ontario.
In specific, they are calling for:
- The immediate recall of the legislature for an emergency session
- Repeal Bills 124 and 195
- Legislate a minimum of 10 permanent, employer-paid sick days
- Hold an emergency summit of all stakeholders in the health care system
- Require health care and educational institutions to provide airborne precautions
- Launch an emergency public health campaign
If you haven’t attended a ‘phone zap’ before, community members will be joining in a Zoom call before all calling in at once to maximize their impact.
If you’d like to read more about the action, or RSVP to attend, click here.
If you would prefer to send an email in support of their campaign, click here.
Next, the Oakwood Vaughan Community Organization (OVCO) are hosting an important Tenant Workshop, on Monday January 24 at 7PM.
Come out to a free workshop on tenant rights and organizing presented by OVCO! Ever been harassed by a landlord? Had to deal with pests where you're renting? Had to fight an eviction? This workshop will help you know your rights and how to best exercise them, featuring interactive talks from Bill Worrell, a tenant organizer who started a tenant association in his building, and Flynn Daunt, a tenant organizer whose tenant association managed to successfully resist 2 unfair renovictions at 2419 Keele Street. Click here to RSVP.
Finally, today, I want to give a big shout out to all the volunteers who are working hard to get the Wychwood Barns Outdoor Skating Rink going for another season – thank you so much for your dedication to this project year after year.