On October 22, Doug Ford set out the province’s new timeline for returning to normal, which includes a plan to get rid of vaccine and mask mandates by March 2022. The province will continue to seek the advice of public health experts and monitor COVID-19 case rates when making these changes.
To give a sense of where the province and U of T are heading on the pathway back to normal, The Varsity broke down Ontario and U of T’s plans to reopen for the winter semester.
The province’s plan for safely reopening Ontario includes the eventual lifting of mask mandates and requirement of proof of vaccination. Currently, it is planning that all remaining public health and workplace safety measures will be lifted by March 2022. The timeline is still subject to change and the “ongoing assessment of key public health and health care indicators,” according to the Ontario government.
On October 25, the province began lifting capacity limits on places that are required to ask for proof of vaccination such as restaurants, bars, athletic facilities, casinos, and other indoor meeting and event spaces. Other places, like barber shops, museums, and amusement parks, can also lift capacity limits and physical distancing requirements if they require visitors to provide proof of vaccination to enter the business premises.
The province initially intended to lift capacity limits on spaces with food, drinks, and dancing, as well as other similar facilities that require proof of vaccination, on November 15, but the opening plan was paused on November 10. The province intends to monitor data on these spaces for 28 days to determine whether to lift capacity limits.
Moving into 2022, the province has set out dates when it will begin lifting requirements for proof of vaccination and other requirements, depending on the public health situation at the time.
On January 17, the province plans to begin lifting capacity limits in places that don’t require proof of vaccination, as well as requirements for proof of vaccination in places like restaurants, bars, athletic facilities, and casinos.
By February 7, it plans to lift proof of vaccination requirements in other high-risk settings like night clubs, strip clubs, bathhouses, and sex clubs.
Finally, by March 28, the province intends to lift remaining restrictions, including mask mandates and proof of vaccination in indoor public settings. However, the province noted that specific places may have specific recommendations and public health measures may be reintroduced locally in certain areas, depending on the conditions in each area.
U of T
The regulations governing the university’s vaccine requirements and other public health measures are mostly governed by the Ministry of Colleges and Universities and the Council Ontario Medical Officers of Health. In August, these bodies advised that universities in Ontario have vaccine mandates.
While the government plans to phase out vaccine and mask mandates, a U of T spokesperson wrote in an email to The Varsity that the vaccine mandate will continue into the winter semester, along with requirements that community members wear masks indoors and other public health measures.
The spokesperson did note, however, that athletic facilities at U of T are slowly increasing their capacity and “expect to have no (or very limited) capacity limits in the Winter term.” Currently, athletic facilities at the university are mostly operating at a reduced capacity and require bookings.