Ontario Reduces Coronavirus Capacity Limits at Large Stadiums, Theaters and Concert Halls
Ontario is dramatically reducing the number of people allowed to gather in large venues as the government comes under pressure to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 in the community.
As part of a new round of changes announced by Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health on Thursday, the government said capacity at large venues will now be limited to 50 per cent or 1,000 people, whichever is lower. .
“I don’t think anyone is fooled by the fact that we don’t have widespread community activity across Ontario,” Dr. Kieran Moore told reporters during a COVID-19 briefing. Thursday.
The change takes effect at 12:01 a.m. Friday and affects spectator-only areas of facilities used for sporting and recreational fitness activities, concert halls and theaters.
“The government and the Chief Medical Officer of Health will continue to monitor data to determine when it is safe to lift capacity limits in these settings,” the province said in a statement Thursday.
While a 50% capacity limit was already in place for most venues, previous regulations allowed nearly 10,000 people to gather at Scotiabank Arena for a Raptors game, a situation that many doctors have said. called a “punch”.
Many of them took to social media on Tuesday evening to denounce the fact that these places were still allowed to let in thousands of customers at a time when the government was imposing restrictions on the elderly in long-term care homes. duration and was considering extending the school holidays.
Ontario recorded a record 13,807 new coronavirus cases on Thursday.
Speaking to CP24 on Thursday evening, palliative care physician Dr Amit Arya said the rampant transmission of COVID-19 in the community means we have to make decisions about what is most important.
“We have to look in the mirror,” Arya said. “What is most important? Is it more important to prioritize entertainment activities – non-essential things like casinos, bars and gyms – to the safety of our seniors in long-term care, to the safety of our hospitals, keeping schools open? Unfortunately, that’s the position we find ourselves in,” he said.
He pointed out that many older people are currently confined, only allowed for essential visits, because transmission levels are so high in the community.
Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment (MLSE), owner of the Maple Leafs and Raptors, said Ontario’s policy change means it will change its venues “to operate without any tickets sold beginning Friday, December 31, except for league and team requirements up to 1,000 per game as we continue to work together in the fight against COVID-19.
Season ticket holders will still be able to attend matches.
The company said it was told the restrictions would be reassessed after three weeks.
“Maple Leafs and Raptors season seat members will receive follow-up information within the next 24 hours when ticketing details are finalized. We look forward to welcoming fans back as soon as the province deems it safe to do so. »
CHANGE DUE TO THE CLOSURE OF OTHER EVENTS IN TORONTO
While the city’s largest venues have drawn attention as possible sources of transmission, the City of Toronto’s COVID-19 exposure and outbreak pages also list a number of popular music venues. .
The city announced this week that it was discouraging people from gathering outdoors to view the New Year’s Eve fireworks and instead advising them to watch a live-streamed concert with pre-recorded performances at venues around the city. .
The sports world has been increasingly affected by the rapid spread of the Omicron variant over the past few weeks. More recently, the World Junior Hockey Tournament was canceled because a number of teams had to forfeit games due to many of their players being in COVID-19 isolation protocol.
A number of major events scheduled to take place in the GTA over the next few weeks, including the Toronto Boat Show and the Toronto Auto Show, have announced their cancellations due to Omicron.
In the theater world, the virus also put a permanent end to the hit musical “Come From Away” and canceled performances of “Jesus Christ Superstar.”
As the government changed rules for large venues on Thursday, Ontario has been reluctant to reimpose public restrictions that resemble previous lockdowns. Meanwhile, Quebec decided on Thursday to impose sweeping measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19, including the indefinite return of a 10 p.m. nighttime curfew, a delayed restart of colleges and universities, and strict restrictions on indoor gatherings.