Ontario to lift lockdown on dining rooms and gyms

Ontario is ending a lockdown of restaurant dining rooms, gyms and cinemas at the end of the month.

Premier Doug Ford says they will be allowed to reopen Jan. 31 with 50% capacity. However, singing and dancing in restaurants and bars will not be allowed except for workers or performers, and people attending concerts must remain seated.

For social gatherings, the limit will be increased to 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors.

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

"We’re moving forward cautiously, because we want to do everything humanly possible to avoid having to go backwards," Ford said on social media.

"The sacrifices Ontarians have made means we can begin a cautious and phased approach to lifting public health measures," he said.

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

Further easing of restrictions is expected over the next two months, with all capacity limits expected to end by March 14 under the current plan.

Proof of vaccination will continue to be required in many settings.