Sources say province will loosen COVID-19 restrictions starting with indoor dining on Jan. 31

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TORONTO — Ontario will allow restaurants to reopen at 50 per cent capacity on Jan. 31 as part of the province's plan to lift restrictions over the next few weeks, sources say.

The Doug Ford government is expected to make the announcement Thursday at Queen's Park.

Ford is expected to announce he will replace closures with capacity limits that were in place in December.

According to sources, a gradual loosening of restrictions will happen through February and Ford is pushing for a full reopening in March.

Earlier on Wednesday, Ford said "restaurants, gyms and other folks" should expect a positive announcement from the province later this week.

This is the second time Ford has referred to "positive news" coming soon regarding loosening the province's current public health restrictions.

Health Minister Christine Elliott also said the province would have "more to say about any movement with respect to restrictions later on this week."

"We know that people and businesses need certainty on what the future looks like and as the premier mentioned yesterday, we will be providing more clarity later this week," Elliott said.

Elliott described "glimmers of hope" in the province’s COVID-19 data and said infections are expected to peak within days.