Ontario is warning of Omicron restrictions that are likely to pass by January 26th

Do not make dinner reservations yet.

The closures of restaurants for indoor dining, gyms, movie theaters, plus other restrictions may remain in place beyond their scheduled expiration date, as Ontario sets daily records in COVID-19 hospital admissions, Chief Physician Dr. Kieran Moore Thursday.

“I can not guarantee the 26th,” Moore said of the January date for lifting restrictions set by Premier Doug Ford earlier this month. “We as a society need to continue to protect the health care system.”

Ontario’s chief physician also signaled that people with compromised immune systems, including those on chemotherapy and dialysis, will qualify for fourth vaccinations from Friday, provided they are 84 days after their third dose.

While the Omicron wave could peak early next week with the number of cases being leveled, Moore said at his weekly press conference that health authorities need to see the hospitalization plateau before the province can begin easing restrictions.

Even then, the measures will be phased out in two-week phases to measure their impact – meaning that it will take time for some companies to return to full capacity.

“A sudden reopening, I would be worried about yet another wave of Omicron,” Moore said. It is not clear exactly when the Omicron cases will flatten out, but when they do, it follows that a week or two later there will be peaks in hospital admissions and intensive care units.

The scientific director of the science table who advised Ford and Moore said mobility for ontarians has dropped, COVID-19 test positivity rates have dropped and hospitalization rates are declining, and those are all good signs.

“If we’re a little bit lucky, we’re starting to see hospital occupancy rise next week,” said Dr. Peter Juni, who stressed that it is “too early” to ease restrictions on businesses while the province measures the impact of reopening of schools for teaching in class on Monday.

The lack of widespread PCR testing to get accurate case numbers makes this a “challenging time” to measure where the province stands, which is why health officials are looking more closely at indications of COVID-19 levels in wastewater, he added. More modeling from the science table may be ready by the end of next week.

Delays in reopening will further hurt struggling companies, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business said as they called for increased financial support.

“This is deeply worrying,” President Dan Kelly said on Twitter.

Ontario hit its seventh consecutive record for COVID-19 hospital admissions on Thursday with 3,630 patients, an increase of 182 from the day before. There were 500 coronavirus patients on intensive care, a number that could double by the end of next week, according to forecasts from the science table.

Moore urged ontarians who are eligible to have their booster shots, especially those over 50, to help keep the lid on infection levels.

“What will take us off track is if we do not maintain the booster doses,” he said.

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