If the Toronto Maple Leafs are to win the pivotal Game 7 in their opening round playoff series against the Montreal Canadiens, it will be done before an empty house.
Despite the fact 2,500 fans were in attendance Saturday night in Montreal, Ontario officials say there will be no spectators in the stands Monday night at Scotiabank Arena.
Brampton mayor Patrick Brown had called on the government to allow a similar number of fully vaccinated frontline workers to attend the game, even tweeting out a link to a petition hockey fans could sign.
“In hockey, fans in an arena are like having a 6th man on the ice,” he tweeted. “I can’t think of a more inspirational group of fans than essential workers & healthcare heroes who have been on the frontlines fighting Covid-19.”
It’s time we thank our healthcare heroes & essential workers.
I’m asking Ontario’s Medical Officer of Health to allow 2,500 fully vaccinated essential workers to attend game 7 of the Leafs v Habs series.#GoLeafsGo #Hockey4Heroes sign the petition at https://t.co/KiJf17ariB pic.twitter.com/UQuVw8hoTd
— Patrick Brown (@patrickbrownont) May 30, 2021
Despite the petition garnering more than 10,000 signatures within hours of going live, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries says they will continue to follow the advice of the Chief Medical Officer of Health and other health experts when it comes to permitting large gatherings.
“The return-to-play plan includes rigorous health and safety protocols developed to ensure the safety of players, staff, their families, and the community. At this time, no spectators are allowed to attend games in-person,” read the brief statement.
Under Ontario’s current Roadmap to Reopen, the reopening of indoor sports and/or recreational facilities would not be possible until 70 to 80 per cent of adults have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and 25 per cent have been fully vaccinated.
According to the latest vaccination figures, just over 53 per cent of Ontarians have received their first dose of the vaccine.
Brown says the government’s position to not allow any indoor events until mid-August is inconsistent with what is happening in other jurisdictions across the country and around the world.
“The medical advice is clear, that its safe for fully vaccinated individuals to be indoors together and if Ontario is going to put a three month wait on those events being able to happen again, it would be inconsistent with the science that is available,” Brown tells 680 NEWS.
Despite the provincial statement, Brown is encouraging people to sign the petition noting that public pressure has already forced the Ford government to alter its stance when it comes to pandemic measures.
“If you look at this government… they had a position, there was no way they were going to open outdoor amenities like golf and tennis, but physicians spoke up, residents spoke up and now we have outdoor amenities open again,” explained Brown. “Because so many people spoke up, playgrounds were reopened after a day of playgrounds being closed.”