Capacity limits return at Ontario restaurants, retailers as Omicron surges

TORONTO – Ontario has reintroduced capacity limits at restaurants, bars and retailers, and capping indoor social gatherings at 10 people in an effort to slow the spread of the Omicron variant.

The province is also limiting outdoor gatherings to 25, and prohibiting food and drink consumption at sports arenas, cinemas and other large venues.

The new rules came into effect first thing Sunday morning, and don’t apply to facilities hosting weddings, funerals or religious services.

Premier Doug Ford says reintroducing these restrictions is the best thing the province can do to prevent schools from being closed to in-person learning after the winter holidays.

He also says it’s still too soon to say whether it will be safe for schools to reopen, given the rapid spread of the Omicron variant.

Ford made the announcement a day after the province’s science advisers said a ramped-up booster campaign wouldn’t be enough to blunt the effects of the new COVID-19 variant.

The expert panel said the province should put “circuit breaker” measures in place to reduce contacts by 50 per cent and warned that without action, daily cases could rise above 10,000 by Christmas.

Omicron is thought to be four to eight times more transmissible than the Delta variant that fuelled the fourth wave of the pandemic.