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Ontario Premier Doug Ford to announce easing of COVID-19 restrictions

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Premier Doug Ford is set to announce Ontario’s plan to gradually lift COVID-19 restrictions put in place earlier this month.

Ford will by joined by Health Minister Christine Elliott and Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Kieran Moore to make the announcement at 11:30 a.m. on Thursday. 

Watch Ford’s announcement live on CTVNewsToronto.ca or the CTV News App.

According to sources, Ford will announce a gradual easing of restrictions that will start Jan. 31 and continue through February.

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Ford is expected to announce he will replace total business closures with capacity limits, similar to those that were in effect before the latest shutdown. Indoor dining will be allowed to reopen at 50 per cent capacity, sources said.

Sources also said Ford is pushing for a full economic reopening by March.

On Wednesday, Ford said “restaurants, gyms and other folks” should expect a positive announcement from the province later this week.

This is the second time Ford has referred to “positive news” coming soon regarding loosening the province’s current public health restrictions.

Indoor dining and gyms have been closed in Ontario since Jan. 5 when the government introduced a circuit breaker to curb the explosive growth of the Omicron variant.

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Elliott said Wednesday that Omicron cases in Ontario are expected to peak this month, with a peak in hospitalizations and ICU admissions to follow.

Many business owners have expressed their frustration over the latest round of closures and say the lack of information about the next steps of reopening is making it hard for them to operate.

Ontario confirmed on Wednesday that 4,132 people are in hospital with COVID-19, and 589 of those patients are in intensive care.

The province reported 5,744 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, but health officials have warned that number is an underestimate due to testing limitations and backlogs.

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