stage 3

Events are finally returning for Step 3 and the capacity limit is surprisingly high

It's been nearly 16 months since residents have been to a large-scale concert, sports game or other major event in Ontario, but the time has finally come for things in the province to return to a version of normal that much of the rest of the world has been enjoying for a while now.

Premier Doug Ford and his team today announced that we will be entering the third and final step of their latest reopening framework at 12:01 a.m. on July 16, and further detailed what that means for various sectors of the economy.

Indoor dining, gym-going and other activities that residents of some regions have been pining after for nine long months will finally return, and restrictions will loosen across the board as far as capacity and gathering limits are concerned.

When it comes to events, measures are easing quite drastically, with the province essentially going from 0 to 100 now that more than 78 per cent of adults provincewide have received a first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, and more than 51 per cent are fully inoculated

Based on the new rules, indoor sports and recreational facilities will be able to open to 50 per cent of their usual capacity for sports games, or 1,000 people, whichever is less.

Outdoor sports fields, on the other hand, will be able to fill up to 75 per cent of their usual spectator capacity, or a whopping 15,000 people, whichever is less.

This is up from the current limits of 25 per cent capacity outdoors only — indoor games were off-limits to fans (save for one exception) — in Step 2.

For concert venues, cinemas, and performing arts theatres, the numbers are essentially the same: 50 per cent of capacity or 1,000 people (whichever is less) for seated events indoors, 75 per cent capacity or up to 15,000 people (whichever is less) for seated events outdoors, and 75 per cent capacity or up to 5,000 people (whichever is less) for outdoor events where there is no fixed seating.

This marks a substantially increase from no spectators at all in Step 2, as these facilties were only permitted to open for the purposes of rehearsals or livestreamed performances, with restrictions in place.

Meanwhile, nightclubs and other food or drink establishments with dance facilities will be able to host guests for events once more, up to 25 per cent of their usual capacity or 250 people, whichever is less.

Fairs, exhibitions, festivals and other such events will also be permitted to take place, all with 50 per cent caps on attendees indoors and 75 per cent outdoors. Unfortunately, some prematurely-cancelled events such as the CNE will not be taking place despite the fact that they already can, with 25 per cent capacity limits outdoors in place, in Step 2.

And finally, meeting and event spaces will be able to operate with up to 50 per cent of their usual number of attendees up to 1,000 people.

Other new liberties in Step 3 include the return of museums, galleries, personal care services where face coverings have to be removed, the aforementioned reopening of gyms and indoor dining and the end of capacity limits at dining tables (outdoor or in), among other things.

Lead photo by

Becky Robertson

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