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ontario capacity limits

Ontario is lowering capacity limits at sports and concert venues to just 1,000 people

With new reported daily cases of COVID-19 rising exponentially across Ontario, hitting a record 13,807 on Thursday morning, residents and experts alike are growing increasingly worried about the Ford government's plans for mitigating the spread of Omicron.

Some fear that new lockdown restrictions will put a damper on their New Year's Eve plans, while others fear that a lack of new restrictions will enable outbreaks that could eventually overwhelm hospitals.

One thing most of those engaged in the discussion seem to agree upon is that 10,000 people probably shouldn't be gathering indoors right now to watch sports or see bands perform.

A new report from the Canadian Press suggests that provincial officials have been listening, and they intend to put a new cap on large entertainment and sporting venues beginning this Friday (aka New Year's Eve.)

Update: The province has confirmed this measure.

CP cited a "senior government source" when announcing the rumoured restriction ahead of a highly-anticipated press conference by Ontario's Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Keiran Moore, Thursday afternoon.

"The source, who was not authorized to speak publicly ahead of an afternoon announcement on the issue, also said the province would further restrict capacity in large indoor venues starting Friday," reads the report, as published by CP24.

"Concert venues, arenas and theatres are currently limited to 50 per cent capacity, but the source said there will also be a hard cap of 1,000 spectators for larger venues."

As of Thursday, all venues with capacities over 1,000 are capped at 50 per cent or 10,000 patrons, whichever is less.

Massive stadiums such as the Rogers Centre and Scotiabank Arena (which have capacities of more than 53,500 and 19,800 each) can thus still technically bring thousands of people together under one roof, despite the fact that social gatherings at private homes are capped at just 10 people indoors and 25 outside.

"To further strengthen its response to Omicron and reduce opportunities for close contact as the province gets as many vaccines into arms as possible, effective 12:01 a.m. on Friday, December 31, 2021, Ontario is restricting spectator capacity to 50 per cent of the usual seating capacity or 1,000 people, whichever is less, in the indoor areas of the following settings," reads a release issued by the government late Thursday afternoon:

  • Spectator areas of facilities used for sports and recreational fitness activities (e.g., sporting events);
  • Concert venues; and
  • Theatres.

"The government and the Chief Medical Officer of Health will continue to monitor the data to determine when it is safe to lift capacity limits in these settings."

Lead photo by

Howard Yang

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