ontario capacity limits

Ontario expands capacity limits at sports stadiums and other large event venues

Ontario is set to take a big step toward the elusive "new normal" we've all been promised with the expansion of capacity limits at large event spaces, including concert venues, theatres and sports stadiums like The Rogers Centre and Scotiabank Arena.

"With public health and health care indicators stable and proof of vaccination now in effect, the government, based on the advice of the Chief Medical Officer of Health, is cautiously easing capacity limits for select indoor and outdoor settings where proof of vaccination is required," announced the provincial government on Friday.

"Effective September 25, 2021, at 12:01 a.m., capacity limits will be increased in many of the indoor settings where proof of vaccination is required."

For eligible indoor spaces, capacity limits will rise on Saturday from the current 1,000 people to 10,000 people (or 50 per cent of a venue's total capacity, whichever is less.)

This includes "meeting and event spaces, such as banquet halls and conference/convention centres; sporting events; concerts, theatres and cinemas; racing venues (e.g., horse racing); and commercial and film television productions with studio audiences."

Outdoor event spaces where people are seated, such as baseball stadiums, will increase capacity limits from 15,000 people to 30,000 people (or 75 per cent, whichever is less.) Blue Jays fans are notably stoked about this ahead of their team's last homestand of the season.

Capacity limits for standing events (think music festivals and food fests) will increase to 15,000 people, or 75 per cent of a venue's capacity, whichever is less, due to the risk of transmission being higher at events where patrons are highly mobile.

"With more and more Ontarians joining millions of others in rolling up their sleeves, our government is taking a safe and cautious approach to ease capacity limits in certain settings where proof of vaccination is required," said Minister of Health Christine Elliott.

"With the added layer of protection offered by proof of vaccination, we are ensuring our businesses can remain safe and open as we continue to reach even more Ontarians who have yet to receive a first or second dose."

Dr. Kieran Moore, Ontario's Chief Medical Officer of Health, credited the now 80 per cent of Ontarians who are fully vaccinated for making the expansion of capacity limits possible, noting that we've now been under Step 3 restrictions for two full months.

It should be noted that, while capacity limits are going up for certain indoor and outdoor areas, patrons must still be fully vaccinated — and have proof from the Ministry of Health — to enter any of these venues.

As of September 22, Ontario residents and visitors are mandated to show proof-of-vaccination documents at bars, restaurants, gyms, cinemas, nightclubs, and other "high-risk" indoor settings.

The province still hasn't launched an app for that, so everyone needs to carry with them either a printed or digital PDF copy of a receipt showing they've had two doses of a Health Canada-approved COVID-19 vaccine.

"Thanks to the tremendous efforts of Ontarians adhering to public health measures and going out to get vaccinated, some of our key public health and health care indicators are currently stable," said Moore on Friday.

"Work remains however, and we must all remain vigilant and continue following the measures and advice in place, and continue to work to vaccinate as many Ontarians as possible to achieve the highest immunization rates we can, and to increase our level of community immunity and protect those who cannot receive the vaccine."

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