Tougher public health restrictions came into effect Monday in many parts of Canada as some regions continue to deal with concerning COVID-19 case counts and rising hospitalizations.
In Quebec, the province announced 4,571 COVID-19 infections — a new single day record.
Bars, restaurants, retail stores, places of worship and entertainment activities in the province must now operate at half capacity, while all sports tournaments and competitions are suspended until further notice.
The government also backtracked on increasing the maximum number of people allowed at indoor gatherings to 20 over Christmas. It has kept the limit at 10 people.
New capacity restrictions are also in place in British Columbia and Newfoundland and Labrador to help curb the spread of COVID-19 and the Omicron variant.
B.C. has limited capacity to 50 per cent at venues that hold more than 1,000 people, including those that hold sporting events, theatre performances and music concerts. Newfoundland and Labrador has limited bars to 50 per cent capacity and restaurants to 75 per cent with physical distancing.
Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.’s provincial health officer, said the restrictions will last for the next six weeks.
Ontario implemented its new public health orders Sunday, which see restaurants, retailers, gyms and other indoor settings operating at 50 per cent capacity.
While theatres are allowed to keep their doors open, some production companies in Ontario are cancelling shows to contend with the rise in COVID-19 cases driven by the Omicron variant.
In Ottawa, plans to bring the acclaimed “Hamilton” musical to the National Arts Centre’s Southam Hall next month have been postponed until July.
Plans to première the eagerly anticipated Tom Stoppard play “Leopoldstadt” in North America in early 2022 have also been cancelled.
Theatre producer David Mirvish issued a statement saying the “sudden arrival” of the variant made it impossible to move forward.
“I’m not giving up on ‘Leopoldstadt.’ I’m determined to present this magnificent play in Toronto sometime in the future when it is safe to do so,” he said.
Meanwhile, adults in Ontario who want to book a COVID-19 vaccine booster may have to wait more than a week for an appointment as many health regions say bookings were snapped up Monday morning.
The province has expanded eligibility for booster shots to those ages 18 and older, as long as it has been at least three months since their second shot, due to rising cases and the threat of Omicron.
Health Minister Christine Elliott’s office said more than 125,000 third-dose appointments had been booked through the province’s online portal as of 10 a.m., but that number doesn’t include shots booked through pharmacies, local public health units and other channels.
“We are pleased to see so many people embrace the opportunity to ensure strong protection against the Omicron variant,” said Alexandra Hilkene, a spokeswoman for Elliott.
The province reported 3,784 new daily infections and no additional deaths from the virus.
—Brittany Hobson, The Canadian Press