Jan 3, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Ontario returns to online learning due to Omicron, closes restaurants and gyms

People wearing face masks line up to enter a COVID-19 vaccination clinic in Toronto, Canada
People wearing face masks line up to enter a COVID-19 vaccination clinic in Toronto, Canada, in December. Photo: Zou Zheng/Xinhua via Getty Images

Ontario, the most populous province in Canada, will delay the return to in-person school and will move to online learning, as well as close all restaurants, gyms and movie theaters due to the rapid spread of the Omicron COVID variant, Ontario's Premier Doug Ford announced on Monday.

Why it matters: Omicron is causing a record number of new infections and leading to concerns about hospital capacity, per AP. Hospitals will also be forced to pause all "non-emergent and non-urgent" surgeries.

Details: The measures will start on Wednesday, Jan. 5, and will all be "time-limited," with most restrictions staying in place for three weeks, Minister of Health Christine Elliot said at a press conference on Monday.

  • In-person learning will be delayed for two weeks.
  • Indoor dining will be prohibited. Gyms, theaters and museums will all be closed during the three-week period.
  • Retails stores will be limited to 50% capacity, and indoor gatherings will be capped at five people.

What they're saying: "If we do not act, if we don't do everything possible to get this variant under control, the results can be catastrophic," Ford said on Monday.

  • "These additional time-limited measures are needed to preserve our hospital capacity as we accelerate our booster dose rollout," Elliot added.
Go deeper