Associated Press / Ted Shaffrey

Ontario announced that it’s moving on to its next phase of reopening, which includes lifting its COVID-19 proof-of-vaccination requirements, starting Feb. 17. 

“Given how well Ontario has done in the Omicron wave we are able to fast track our reopening plan,” the province’s premier, Doug Ford, said in a press release. “This is great news and a sign of just how far we’ve come together in our fight against the virus. While we aren’t out of the woods just yet we are moving in the right direction.”

Ford said the decision to move forward is not due to the trucker-originated protests in Ottawa and Windsor, which have led to multiple road closures, blockages and arrests.

“Let me very clear: We are moving in this direction because it is safe to do so,” he said, according to The Associated Press. “Today’s announcement is not because of what’s happening in Ottawa or Windsor but despite it.”

“We need law and order. Our country is at risk now. It’s not just not happening here in Ottawa, but it’s happening in Alberta and British Columbia,” Ford added. “We won’t accept it.”

Ford noted that he would support the government if it proposed more measures to curb protests.

The next phase of rolling back COVID-19 restrictions will further ease multiple health measures, such as removal of a 50 percent capacity limit on restaurants on Thursday, four days earlier than initially planned. People will also no longer need to show proof of vaccination before entering restaurants, gyms and sporting events.

“Thanks to the province’s high vaccination rates and the continued sacrifices of Ontarians, we are now in a position where we can move forward in our plan earlier than anticipated,” said Christine Elliott, deputy premier and minister of health.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau virtually met with the leaders of Canada’s provinces on Monday morning, according to the AP, and has rejected calls for military use to quell protests. However, he said “all options are on the table” to end the protests, including turning to emergency measures.

Tags Canada Justin Trudeau Ontario Ottawa Premiere Protests

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