Ontario limits capacity at restaurants and retailers at 50%

TORONTO (AP) — Canada’s largest province announced Friday that it is cutting capacity at restaurants, bars, malls and retailers to 50% and limiting social gatherings inside restaurants to 10 people in an effort to slow the spread of the omicron variant.

Dr. Kieran Moore, Ontario’s chief medical officer of health, said that other new pandemic restrictions will halt the sale of alcohol 10 p.m. and bar the sale of food and drink at sports events and movie theaters.

“Omicron will not take a holiday,” Moore said.

The new restrictions take effect Sunday. They came a day after neighboring Quebec announced similar restrictions that are to start Monday.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford said the coronavirus variant is unlike anything they have seen, saying Britain’s experience with surging infections is an urgent call for action. Ontario is Canada’s most populous province, being home to about 40% of the country’s people.

Over the past seven days, Canada has seen an average of 5,000 new coronavirus cases daily, 45% higher than the previous seven-day period.

“The experts have been very clear: Nothing will stop the spread of omicron. It’s just too transmissible. What we can do — and we are doing — is slowing it as much as possible to get more shots into arms,” Ford said.

Ontario is opening coronavirus booster shots to anyone aged 18 and above beginning Monday.

Ford said no decision has been made on whether schools will return for in-class learning in January.

“I know you are all tired,” Ford said.

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