Lifting of Ontario Capacity limits Monday helping businesses get 'back to normal'
Gateway Casinos calls the lifting of Ontario capacity restrictions a “game changer.”
"A lot of heavy lifting will begin exactly at 12:01 a.m., but this is absolutely great news for us," says Rob Mitchell, director of communications and public affairs for Gateway Casinos.
The Ontario government released its long-term COVID-19 reopening plan on Friday, noting that capacity restrictions for businesses requiring proof of vaccination will be lifted on Oct. 25.
Under the current guidelines, casinos are permitted to operate at 50 per cent capacity, but with distancing between machines, it is more like 30 per cent capacity.
"We can essentially restore all our dormant slots, opening our tables, and all the social distancing limitations are removed," says Mitchell.
"All those directional signs you see on the floor will be gone, most of the plexiglass will come down, and we'll have full seating at our restaurants. We think we'll be back to normal sometime late tomorrow (Monday) afternoon."
Restaurants Canada has been pushing for weeks to get limitations removed. They say owners have been working through the weekend to get ready.
"It's late, but it's so welcome," says James Rilett, vice president of Central Canada for Restaurants Canada.
"We were afraid it was going to be another couple weeks before we got this, but now all they have to do is move some tables around and hopefully get some more people in the restaurant."
Owners are hoping this will solve some staffing issues. Over the past 20 months, they've had to cut staff out then bring them back in in a vicious cycle.
"I've never worked harder and longer hours in my life and made less," says Renaldo Agostino, owner of Turbo Expresso Bar in Windsor, Ont.
"It's okay because I see the light at the end of the tunnel is finally coming. I see people finally getting their vaccines and I see people are starting to feel safer out there and that's the main thing is that people have to feel more comfortable with going out."Karen Nixon-Carroll, Owner of F45 Training in St. Thomas, Ont. is thrilled that Ontario is lifting capacity limits. Oct. 24, 2021. (Brent Lale / CTV News)The fitness industry has been crushed during the pandemic. Many gyms and fitness centres have been forced to shut down, go to virtual training, or even workout outdoors since the spring of 2020.
"It hurts me whenever I see some of my fellow colleagues that have lost jobs, lost homes and their entire gym itself has gone under," says Karen Nixon-Carroll, owner of F45 Training in St. Thomas, Ont.
Her gym has a capacity of 53, but training classes typically range from nine to 27 people.
"We have some sessions that run that have less equipment so in that case we might be able to increase it to 21 or 24," says Nixon-Carroll, who has owned the franchise since 2019.
"I never see us going to full capacity that would just be too much in here but it does allow us a little bit of wiggle room, especially on some of those sessions where we don't use as much equipment".
Nixon-Carroll says most gyms have always prioritized cleanliness and wiping of equipment and hopes that the lifting of restrictions will bring people back to in-person training.
This will be the first time in more than a year that some businesses will be able to operate at full capacity.
If a business chooses not to require proof of vaccination, they must adhere to Step 3 capacity restrictions.
Proof of vaccination will not be required to access medical care, grocery stores or other essential services