Provincial Response to Rapid Rise in Omicron Cases Includes Temporary Return to Online Schooling, Business Restrictions and Gathering Limits


The Eastern Ontario Heath Unit (EOHU) is advising the public that effective January 5th, 2022 at 12:01 AM, the EOHU region along with the rest of Ontario will be temporarily returning to a modified Step 2 in the province’s Roadmap to Reopen. All regions of the province will remain in Step 2 for at least 21 days (until January 26, 2022), subject to trends in public health and health system indicators.

The return to modified Step 2 restrictions and guidance is in response to the alarming rise in COVID-19 cases across the province. According to the Ontario government, the rapid rise of Omicron cases may soon number in the hundreds of thousands and could result in the province’s hospital capacity becoming overwhelmed if further action isn’t taken to curb transmission. The targeted, time-limited measures will help blunt transmission and prevent hospitals from becoming overwhelmed as the province continues to accelerate its booster dose rollout.

“As with other areas of the province, the EOHU region has seen a dramatic rise in COVID-19 cases in the last few weeks,” states Dr. Paul Roumeliotis, Medical Officer of Health. “We are extremely concerned about the impact on our local healthcare system and critical services if the rapid rise in cases isn’t brought under control. A return to modified restrictions is necessary to help reduce the transmission of Omicron and protect our critical services. We are also urging everyone to follow public health measures and to get your COVID-19 vaccine or booster shot.”

Students return to remote learning from January 5th to 17th

Among the measures that will be in effect starting January 5th is a temporary return to online learning for students, until at least January 17th, subject to public health trends and operational considerations. During this period of remote learning, free emergency child care will be provided for school-aged children of healthcare and other eligible frontline workers.

School buildings would be permitted to open for child care operations, including emergency child care, to provide in-person instruction for students with special education needs who cannot be accommodated remotely and for staff who are unable to deliver quality instruction from home.

Gathering limits

Social gatherings will be limited to 5 people indoors and 10 people outdoors. Organized public events will be limited to 5 people indoors.

Work from home

Businesses and organizations are required to ensure employees work remotely unless the nature of their work requires them to be on-site.

Closure of indoor dining

Indoor dining at restaurants, bars and other food or drink establishments will not be permitted. Outdoor dining with restrictions, takeout, drive through and delivery is permitted.

Reduced capacity at certain businesses and events

Capacity restrictions of 50% will be in place for retail settings (including shopping malls), certain personal care services (with additional restrictions) and libraries. In addition, indoor weddings, funerals, and religious services, rites and ceremonies will be limited to 50% capacity of the particular room. Outdoor services will be limited to the number of people that can maintain 2 metres of physical distance.

Business and service closures

The following services and settings will be temporarily closed:

  • Indoor meeting and event spaces with limited exceptions (outdoor spaces may remain open with restrictions)
  • Indoor concert venues, theatres, cinemas; rehearsals and recorded performances permitted with restrictions
  • Indoor sport and recreational fitness facilities including gyms
  • Museums, galleries, zoos, science centres, landmarks, historic sites, botanical gardens and similar attractions, amusement parks and waterparks, tour and guide services and fairs, rural exhibitions, and festivals (outdoor establishments permitted to open with restrictions and with spectator occupancy, where applicable, limited to 50% capacity)
  • Indoor horse racing tracks, car racing tracks and other similar venues

For the full list of restrictions in place, please see Ontario Temporarily Moving to Modified Step Two of the Roadmap to Reopen and COVID-19 public health measures and advice.