Restaurants Canada says it’s “extremely disappointed” that the Ontario government has chosen to lift capacity limits in some venues, but not for the “hardest-hit” food service industry.
As of Saturday morning, cinemas, theatres, concert and spectator sports venues and car and horse racing tracks are allowed to open at full capacity.
The province says there have been few outbreaks in the selected settings and most other public health measures such as masks remain in place.
Capacity rules remain in place in other places requiring proof of vaccination such as gyms and restaurants.
In a statement issued Friday, the national, non-profit association representing Canada’s restaurant and food service industry says it doesn’t understand why the food industry continues to be “singled out” by the Ontario government.
“It is beyond comprehension that 20,000 people can cram into an arena, scream, and closely congregate without masks, while restaurants must adhere to strict distancing regulations which severely restrict the number of customers that can be served,” Restaurants Canada wrote.
The association says the restaurant industry was the first to be closed during the onset of COVID-19, has suffered the longest closures and the “deepest restrictions” throughout the pandemic.
It is calling on the province to immediately lift all further restrictions on the industry and provide additional support to recognize the cost of implementing the vaccine passport program.
The Ontario government says it’s making the capacity limit changes based on high vaccination rates, stable public health indicators and the vaccine certificate policy.
Physical distancing requirements are lifting along with capacity limits with some exceptions such as indoor meeting and event spaces, which must still maintain two metres between people.
Ontarians remain confident in COVID-19 vaccines, science advisers say
A science advisory group says overall confidence in COVID-19 vaccines among Ontarians has remained relatively stable.
In a brief released late Friday, the Ontario COVID-19 Science Advisory Table says confidence in COVID-19 vaccines has remained within the range of 72 per cent to 76 per cent.
The group says survey data from 28,660 Ontarians revealed that people with lower confidence in COVID-19 vaccines tend to have a lower household income, are more likely to be unable to work from home and self-identify as racialized.
Vaccine hesitancy is associated with a complex set of factors including health inequities, systemic barriers to accessing health-care and mistrust in government and health-care institutions.
The science group says vaccine hesitancy is highest among the same groups who have experienced a disproportionate burden of COVID-19 outcomes.
It is calling for more community-tailored engagement, outreach and interventions to address the drivers of vaccine hesitancy and increase vaccine uptake in certain groups.
Daily case numbers
Ontario is reporting 654 new COVID-19 cases and two deaths from the virus Saturday.
Of the new cases, 464 of the infected people are not fully vaccinated or have an unknown vaccination status. The province says 190 of the cases are in fully vaccinated people.
There are 153 people in intensive care due to COVID-19, including 139 patients who are not fully vaccinated or have an unknown vaccination status.
Provincial data says nearly 87 per cent of Ontario residents aged 12 and older have received one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 82 per cent have both shots.
This content appears as provided to The Globe by the originating wire service. It has not been edited by Globe staff.