The premier of Ontario, Canada, announced Monday that the most populous province will lift its COVID-19 proof-of-vaccination requirements in two weeks — not because of the protests that have blocked the border and paralyzed Ottawa, he said, but because “it is safe to do so.”
Ontario Premier Doug Ford said that on March 1, the province will drop its requirement that people show proof of vaccination to get into restaurants, gyms and sporting events. A surge of cases caused by the Omicron variant has crested in Canada.
The province will also remove its 50% capacity limit on restaurants on Thursday, four days earlier than planned. Ford gave no timetable for dropping the requirement that people wear masks in public places.
“Let me be very clear: We are moving in this direction because it is safe to do so. Today’s announcement is not because of what’s happening in Ottawa or Windsor but despite it,” Ford said.
The busiest U.S.-Canada border crossing, meanwhile, was open again Monday after police removed the last of the protesters who had bottled up the Ambassador Bridge for nearly a week in a demonstration against Canada's virus restrictions.
But the larger truck-borne protest in the capital, Ottawa, persisted as city residents seethed over authorities' inability to reclaim the streets.
Ford said he would support Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government if it proposed further measures to quell the protests. Trudeau planned to meet virtually with the leaders of Canada’s provinces on Monday morning, as well as with lawmakers.
Additional reporting by The Associated Press.