Ontario to lift lockdown on dining rooms and gyms

Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks during a media availability with German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Thursday, Jan. 20, 2022, in Berlin, Germany. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, Pool)
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By ROB GILLIES Associated Press

TORONTO (AP) — Canada’s largest province is ending a lockdown of restaurant dining rooms, gyms and cinemas at the end of the month.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford said Thursday they will be allowed to reopen Jan. 31 with 50% capacity.

The province locked down again on Jan. 5, unlike U.S. cities and states. Like the U.S., Ontario saw record new infections.

Ford said hospitalizations are starting to slow and officials expect cases of the ultra-contagious omicron variant to peak this month.

“We can be confident the worst is behind us, Ford said. “We’re going to very cautiously open up.”

Health Minister Christine Elliott said non-emergency surgeries won’t resume until ICU occupancy and hospitalizations go down. She said officials expect those to peak in the first or second week of February.

Sporting arenas and concert venues will be limited to 500 spectators on Jan. 31, but limits are to be eased on Feb. 21.