Premier Doug Ford’s cabinet will meet Thursday afternoon to discuss new steps to combat the Omicron variant’s spread, such as lower capacity and gathering restrictions.
CP24 and CTV News Toronto have learned from multiple sources that the government is considering cutting capacity limitations to 25% in some industries and lowering the maximum permissible social gathering size from 25 to 10 inside.
The government is also considering revising the definition of completely immunized to three doses as it pushes up its attempt to get everyone 18 and up a booster injection, according to the sources.
However, it is unclear when such a change would take effect.
Ontarians between the ages of 18 and 49 will only become eligible to book an appointment for a third dose as of Monday morning and the demand for shots is likely to exceed the province’s capacity to administer them, at least initially.
This afternoon’s cabinet meeting comes day after Ontario’s science advisory table released new modelling which warned that the province could see more than 10,000 COVID-19 cases per day by January without immediate indoor capacity restrictions and a rapid expansion of the third dose rollout.
“We are going to see some very, very high case numbers and that will of course translate into hospitalizations and ICU stays and sadly deaths,” infectious disease specialist Dr. Isaac Bogoch told CP24 on Friday morning. “It looks like if we really don’t bring things in and reduce our contacts that we could really exceed our capacity with our health-care system and that is not far off. It is in the weeks away and not the months away. We do have limited ICU capacity to begin with, we don’t have a ton of wiggle room in the health-care system and we’ll be in a really challenging place in the next couple of weeks if we don’t take steps to really reduce transmission.”
According to multiple sources, the government had considered reverting to a previous stage in its reopening plan due to the threat posed by Omicron but has moved away from that idea in favour of more modest restrictions for now.
According to sources, the proposed measures are similar to those implemented in Quebec, where officials ordered that capacity in bars, restaurants, theatres, gyms, and places of worship be cut to 50% as of Monday.
Premier Doug Ford and Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Kieran Moore are slated to make a joint announcement following today’s cabinet meeting.
At 3:30 p.m., they will hold a press conference at Queen’s Park.
According to the science table, cases containing the Omicron strain are currently doubling every 2.8 days in Ontario.