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Ontario expands booster shot eligibility, cuts capacity at large venues but says lockdowns not the way out

Every resident over 18 can sign up for a COVID-19 booster shot on Monday as long as you had your second shot three months ago.  That shortens the amount of time now recommended between your second and third dose from six months to three.

Appointments can be booked through the provincial booking portal, Indigenous-led vaccination clinics, pharmacies, and doctor’s offices.

If you’re 50 and over and have booked your booster shot at the previous six-month interval you can now rebook your appointment on Monday by calling the Provincial Vaccine Contact Centre or through the booking portal.

“As we combat the spread of the highly contagious Omicron variant, nothing matters more than getting these booster doses into people’s arms,” said Premier Doug Ford. “I am issuing a call to arms. We need every member of Team Ontario to stand tall and do their part as we work to protect our hard-fought progress and keep Ontarians safe.”

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About 2 million free rapid antigen tests are also available at about 50 pop-up testing sites in malls, holiday markets, and transit hubs.  Take-home rapid tests will be available at select LCBO stores starting with the busiest locations and adding more in the next few days.

But those tickets you had to the Leafs, Sens, or Raptors may not guarantee you a seat.  Beginning Saturday there will be a 50-percent capacity limit for all entertainment venues including sports facilities that can seat more than 1,000 people.  That also extends to gaming facilities and cultural attractions like museums and historic sites.  The province says these new capacity limits are to reduce the spread of the virus in high-risk indoor settings with large crowds where masks may not be worn at all times.

Ford was adamant another provincewide lockdown or more restrictions is not going to happen.  He said the government focused on large venues for capacity restrictions where masks aren’t always worn but says the rapid rollout of booster shots is where the government is focusing.

“Let me tell you, everything’s on the table.  I wish I had a crystal ball to tell you where the cases will be in two weeks or three weeks,” Ford told reporters. “All I’m saying is our best defense is get a booster shot Locking ourselves down out of this isn’t the solution out of this. What our solution is, is making sure everyone goes out and gets a booster shot in every corner of this province. That’s our plan and that’s what we’re going to get done.”

**With files from Wendy Gray

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