Ontario announces new measures amid rise in COVID cases

The Ontario government has announced new measures amid a rise in COVID-19 cases in the province.

Eligibility for booster shots is being expanded to all those aged 18+ beginning Jan. 4. Appointments will be able to be booked around six months after the second dose.

The government is also extending the use of the proof of vaccination system beyond Jan. 17, which is when the province previously indicated the measure would start to be lifted in certain settings.

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As of Jan. 4, QR codes will be the only accepted way to provide proof of vaccination in the province.

The original vaccination receipts, which have been susceptible to fraud, will no longer be accepted.

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Beginning Dec. 20, the government says proof of vaccination will be required for youth aged 12 to 17 to participate in organized sports.

The government says it is also planning an “enhanced winter testing strategy” beginning next week, offering rapid antigen tests to asymptomatic individuals free of charge at pop-up testing sites in “high traffic” areas such as malls, transit hubs, and retail locations.

Officials are also encouraging Ontarians to limit social gatherings over the holidays. Employers are being encouraged to allow workers to work from home when possible.

“As we continue to learn more about the Omicron variant, we are taking additional measures to protect our progress as we head into the winter months,” Health Minister Christine Elliott said in a statement.

“Getting vaccinated and adhering to public health and workplace safety measures will continue to protect us and our loved ones against COVID and variants, but we won’t hesitate to continue to take swift action to ensure the continued health and safety of all Ontarians.”

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COVID-19 cases have been rising in Ontario in recent weeks, though the number of people hospitalized or in intensive care with COVID-19 has remained relatively stable.

More to come.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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