It’s unclear if businesses ordered closed by the Ontario government last week will get to reopen on Jan. 26 after the province’s top doctor revealed Thursday that he “can’t guarantee” that new public health restrictions will lift on that date.

“As soon as we have clarity, we want to inform the business community, so I can’t guarantee the 26th,” Dr. Kieran Moore, Ontario’s chief medical officer of health, said during a news conference. “We’ll be watching the same data as those experts at the science table and we collaborate with them to be able to inform public health measures.”

Earlier this month, the provincial government announced sweeping new measures aimed at curbing the spread of the COVID-19 variant Omicron and its impact on Ontario’s health-care system, including moving schools online until Jan. 17, restricting indoor dining at restaurants and bars, and slashing capacity at retail settings and personal care services to 50 per cent until at least Jan. 26.

Since then, Moore said he and his team have been looking for a plateau and a peak in the number of patients being admitted to hospital and intensive care for COVID-19. Once that happens, Moore said that the plan is to “slowly and cautiously” remove public health restrictions.

“Our public health measures have just been put in on the [Jan.] fifth, we should start to see that benefit of the sacrifices that Ontarians have made next week. Early in the week, we should be able to get clarity on where we’re at,” Moore said.

Moore’s comments come after the Ontario Chamber of Commerce called on the province to provide clarity on what public health metrics are used to guide the government's decisions to impose and lift restrictions.

President and CEO Rocco Rossi said in a statement issued Thursday that because the province has announced that schools will return on Monday, business owners need to know if they can reopen on Jan. 26.

“We implore the government to immediately clarify if Ontario will be moving out of Stage 2 of its Roadmap to Reopen plan so employers, workers and families can plan accordingly,” Rossi said.

“To help reduce business uncertainty, we continue to call for transparency and visibility into the metrics guiding the imposition or removal of public health restrictions.”

Moore maintained that it is the government’s intention to keep closures “as short as possible” and apologized to business owners for the hardship the public health measures may have caused.

With files from The Canadian Press