Cold weather will put province's plan to ease restrictions to the test, head of science table says

Now that Ontario has laid out its staged approach to lifting remaining pandemic restrictions, the head of Ontario's science table says the plan will quickly be put to the test and cold weather will be the biggest challenge.

"This is a roadmap and I think it makes perfect sense, to give people a sense of what will happen during the next few months," said Dr. Peter Juni, Scientific Director of Ontario's Science Advisory Table.

Many experts are optimistic, saying fears of a fourth wave are in the past.

But Dr. Juni says the plan, aimed to get this province closer to normalcy, will be quickly put to the test.

"The only curveball that is impending obviously is the bad weather, people will move indoors more and what we need to see is how this impact epidemic growth in this province," he said.

"It's important to recognize the pandemic isn't over and if we act like it's over we could get burned," said Dr. Isaac Bogoch, infectious disease specialist.

First to go in Ontario are capacity limits for many businesses on Monday.

"It's all good news, we're still cautiously optimistic because it can all change in the blink of an eye, but feels good," said Johnny Bonney, assistant general manager at the King Eddy in the ByWard market.

Also included in the province's plan is a timeline to drop proof of vaccination requirements and the province's mask mandate too starting early next year.

And so, as Ontario takes this next step forward, the message from experts is to remain cautious with cold months ahead. They say it's a slow and cautious approach, and not a one way street. The province will continue to monitor the COVID-19 burden on communities and says it is ready to pivot if need be.

Dr. Juni said the goal of that with a bit of discipline we can all enjoy more liberties with fewer restrictions.