By Pam Wright
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
After a 26-day pause, Ontario is ending its most recent lockdown Jan. 31.
Premier Doug Ford announced the reopening measures last week, giving the go-ahead now that key public health indicators are showing signs of improvement.
At the end of the month indoor social gatherings can increase to 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors.
Indoor public settings, including restaurants and bars, cinemas, religious services and retailers, will return to 50-per-cent capacity.
Also on the list are gyms, museums and casinos and bingo halls.
Spectator areas of places such as sporting events and concert venues will also return to 50 per cent capacity or 500 people, whichever is less.
Proof of vaccination will be required at all venues.
Chatham-Kent medical officer of health Dr. David Colby said reopening measures are not a rigid rollout, but rather “a plan based on reality.”
During a weekly municipal media scrum, Colby said reopening the province is directly tied to how COVID-19 is affecting health care and hospital capacity.
Again, Colby urged people to step up and get vaccinated, as it remains the best defense against COVID-19.
If all goes well, further restrictions will be lifted Feb. 21, at which time social indoor gatherings will be increased to 25 people indoors, 100 outdoors and many indoor setting will have no capacity limits if proof of vaccination is provided.
The third stage of the reopening will take place March 14, with proof of vaccination continuing to be linked to attendance.