Ontario introducing 50 per cent capacity limits at large indoor sports, entertainment venues

Starting Saturday at 12:01 a.m. Ontario is bringing back capacity limits of 50 per cent at indoor entertainment venues, meeting and event spaces and sports venues with an indoor capacity of 1,000 people or more.

In a bid to contain the rapidly spreading Omicron COVID-19 variant, Ontario is bringing capacity limits back to many large, indoor venues.

Starting on Saturday at 12:01 a.m. 50 per cent capacity limits will be implemented at sports and entertainment venues with an indoor capacity of 1,000 people or more.

That includes pro sports venues like the Scotiabank arena, where the Leafs and Raptors play their home games.

“This measure is being taken to reduce opportunities for close contact in high-risk indoor settings with large crowds and when masks are not always worn,” the province said in a release.

The capacity limits will also be in effect for:

  • concert venues,
  • theatres and cinemas;
  • racing venues,
  • studio audiences in commercial film and television production
  • museums
  • galleries
  • aquariums
  • zoos
  • science centres
  • landmarks
  • historic sites
  • botanical gardens and similar attractions
  • casinos, bingo halls and other gaming establishments
  • fairs, rural exhibitions, and festivals.


Maple Leafs Sports & Entertainment (MLSE), which owns Scotiabank Arena, released a statement Wednesday saying it is “fully supportive” of the province’s decision.

“Our ticketing team is currently working through the logistics of implementing this change and will provide follow up details to all ticket holders within 24 hours,” MLSE said.

MLSE said it was also introducing a new enhanced mask protocol called “Operation Mask Up (or out)” starting at the Raptors home game on Saturday.

The protocol “requires all attendees to strictly adhere to all mask-wearing protocols or risk ejection from the building.”

Cineplex also released a statement, saying it will comply with the new directives, but that it’s “still reviewing what was announced and what it will mean for movie-lovers.”

Ontario previously put capacity limits in place for indoor sporting and entertainment events, but they were lifted in October, allowing the Leafs and Raptors to open their seasons with a full crowd.

But the emergence of the Omicron variant changed everything, with the once-fading pandemic suddenly flourishing again, forcing the province to take action.

“I know this will be tough,” said Premier Doug Ford while announcing the new measures Wednesday. “But it’s an important step in ensuring we slow the spread of Omicron…”

Along with the capacity limits, the province also announced Wednesday that it was speeding up booster shot eligibility for all Ontarians 18 and older, from an initial date of January 4, to Monday, Dec. 20.

Ontario reported its highest daily COVID-19 case count in nearly seven months on Wednesday, with 1,808 new confirmed infections.

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