Ontario lifts COVID-19 capacity restrictions for venues used for concerts, sports and movie theatres
TORONTO -- Ontario lifted capacity restrictions today for certain large venues, including those used for concerts, sports and movies.
The government made the announcement in a news release issued Friday afternoon, saying that capacity restrictions will be lifted as of midnight on Saturday.
The following venues will be allowed to be at full capacity:
- Concert venues, theatres and cinemas
- Spectator areas of facilities for sports and recreational fitness (not including gyms and personal training)
- Meeting and event spaces (indoor meeting and event spaces will still need to limit capacity to the number that can maintain physical distancing)
- Horseracing tracks, car racing tracks, and other similar venues; and
- Commercial film and television productions with studio audiences.
- Certain outdoor settings that have a capacity below 20,000
Proof of vaccination is required at the venues where 100 per cent capacity is allowed.
Other public health measures, such as masking and physical distancing, will remain in place.
The government says the decision was made due to a “limited number of outbreaks in these settings.”
“In addition, proof of vaccination will continue to be required in outdoor settings where the normal maximum capacity is 20,000 people or more to help keep these venues safe for patrons,” the province said in their release.
Capacity restrictions remain in place for all other businesses, including restaurants.
Previously, indoor spaces such as banquet halls, movie theatres, sporting venues and film productions with studio audiences were limited to 50 per cent capacity or 10,000 people, whichever is less.
For outdoor venues were patrons stand, capacity limits were 75 per cent or 15,000 people. This was increased to 75 per cent or 30,000 people for outdoor events where patrons are seated.
“As we continue to see more Ontarians roll up their sleeves with over 22 million doses administered, our government is cautiously lifting capacity limits in select settings where we know proof of vaccination requirements are providing an added layer of protection to Ontarians,” Minister of Health Christine Elliott said in a statement.
“The fight against COVID-19 is not over and we must all remain vigilant by continuing to follow the public health measures we know work and keep us safe, and receiving your first or second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine if you have not already done so.”
The announcement was met with excitement and relief by sport venues as the 2021-2022 NBA and NHL seasons approach.
In a statement, Maple Leafs Sports & Entertainment (MLSE) said in a statement they are “overjoyed” with the decision to allow full capacity at sport venues.
“Throughout the process of re-opening our venues to fans, which included working closely with the Province over many months, health and safety has been our shared top priority and we are overjoyed to see this day arrive when we are able to welcome a full venue to cheer on the Maple Leafs and Raptors,” Michael Friisdahl, President and CEO of MLSE, said in a statement.
The MLSE confirmed that they will host their first full capacity game on Oct. 14 at the Maple Leafs’ home opener.
The Ontario Hockey League (OHL) that it will be welcoming crowds at 100 per cent capacity as of Saturday.
“Yesterday’s launch to our 2021-22 Regular Season was an incredible night for everyone, and more fans being safely permitted to enter OHL facilities across the province only adds to that excitement we’re all feeling,” said OHL Commissioner David Branch in a statement.
At the same time, some restaurant owners have expressed frustration about being left out of Friday's announcement.
Celina Blanchard, the owner of Lambretta Pizzeria, told CP24 that restaurants are asking customers for proof of vaccination before they can dine inside. She also noted that food is allowed to be purchased and consumed at a movie theatres and concerts.
"As soon as I order a drink or food, I can take my I can remove my mask and sit next to someone I don't even know. So why is that any different," she said.
"If everyone is vaccinated, and we're allowing people to come into the restaurant with their vaccine proof, then why are we not allowed to open it up to more people? I don't understand that. It seems to be a double standard here."
The province also announced Friday that proof of vaccination or a medical exemption will be required to attend a social gathering associated with a wedding or funeral service as of Oct. 13.
A negative COVID-19 test will no longer be allowed as a substitution.