Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced Monday that the province would suspend its coronavirus vaccine passport on March 1 and speed up its reopening plans. Beginning Thursday, limits on social gatherings will be raised and capacity limits lifted for indoor public settings such as restaurants, cinemas and casinos, where vaccination proof is required.
The province planned to lift proof of vaccination for those venues on March 1, but businesses could continue to require it. Masking requirements are to remain in place for now.
Ford cited the drop in coronavirus cases as a reason to speed up the reopening timetable. “Given how well Ontario has done in the Omicron wave we are able to fast track our reopening plan,” he said in a news release.
Police arrested at least two dozen protesters Sunday while clearing the Ambassador Bridge, the country’s busiest land border crossing and a key supply route linking Windsor, Ontario, and Detroit. In Ottawa on Sunday, Mayor Jim Watson said he had brokered a tentative agreement with Tamara Lich, a key protest organizer, to make the demonstrations less disruptive to residents in exchange for a meeting and designating a short-term spot for the protests.
But prospects for a breakthrough in the capital were immediately cast into doubt, with Lich tweeting that no “deal” had been made.
The back-and-forth is the latest chapter of a saga that has pitted Ottawa’s law enforcement against protesters since a convoy of truck drivers opposed to vaccine mandates illegally parked by Parliament in Ottawa on Jan. 28.