Ontario Introducing New Restrictions To Fight Omicron, Boosters Available Sooner For 18+

Wednesday December 15th, 2021

Posted at 4:35pm

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The Ontario government is introducing new measures to fight the rapid spread of the Omicron variant of COVID-19.

New measures include accelerating the booster dose rollout by expanding eligibility to all individuals aged 18 and over, shortening the interval to three months following a second dose, launching a holiday testing blitz, and introducing new restrictions.

Earlier Booster Dose Dates

“As we combat the spread of the highly contagious Omicron variant, nothing matters more than getting these booster doses into people’s arms” said Premier Doug Ford. “I am issuing a call to arms. We need every member of Team Ontario to stand tall and do their part as we work to protect our hard-fought progress and keep Ontarians safe.”

Starting Monday, December 20th, 2021, individuals aged 18 and over will be eligible to schedule their booster dose appointment. The government says appointments will be booked three months (84 days) after a second dose as the province urgently expands booster eligibility to millions more individuals. Additionally, pharmacies and other channels may provide boosters for 18 and over at the three-month interval starting Friday, December 17th, 2021 for walk-ins.

New Restrictions

Effective December 18th, 2021 at 12:01am, the government says a 50 per cent capacity limit to the following indoor areas of venues with a usual capacity of 1,000 or more:

  • facilities used for sports and recreational fitness activities;
  • entertainment facilities such as concert venues, theatres and cinemas;
  • racing venues;
  • meeting and event spaces;
  • studio audiences in commercial film and television production;
  • museums, galleries, aquariums, zoos, science centres, landmarks, historic sites, botanical gardens and similar attractions;
  • casinos, bingo halls and other gaming establishments;
  • fair, rural exhibitions, and festivals

The province says this measure is being taken to reduce opportunities for close contact in high-risk indoor settings with large crowds and when face coverings/masks are not always worn.

Free Rapid Tests

Starting today up to two million rapid tests will be provided free of charge at pop-up testing sites in high-traffic settings such as malls, retail settings, holiday markets, public libraries and transit hubs.

Pop-up teams will be deployed at nearly 50 locations across the province, including some co-located with GO-VAXX mobile vaccine buses. Most sites will distribute free take-home rapid antigen test kits, subject to supply, and some will offer asymptomatic rapid antigen screening on-site. The government will also make take-home rapid tests available at select LCBO stores, starting with the busiest stores this week and with more stores being added in the coming days.

Ontarians can visit Ontario.ca/holidaytesting to find out if pop-up rapid antigen screening sites will be available in their area. Locations and operating hours will be updated weekly, and no appointment will be required.

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