Ontario will let 550 people attend tonight's Leafs-Habs Game 7 at Scotiabank Arena
The Toronto Maple Leafs will officially have fans in the stands tonight when they take on the Montreal Canadiens during an historic Game 7 in the NHL Playoffs at Toronto's Scotiabank Arena.
"Following discussions with the Chief Medical Officer of Health, Toronto Public Health and hospital partners, I am happy to announce that they have signed off on allowing 550 fully vaccinated frontline health care workers, including hospital and long-term care staff, to be invited to attend Game 7..." reads a statement released by Premier Doug Ford Monday morning.
"This small token of appreciation doesn't measure up to the sacrifices they've made during COVID-19, but it is an opportunity for us to recognize their heroic efforts to keep each and every one of us safe."
The move comes less than 24 hours after the province's Ministry of Heritage, Tourism, Culture and Sport denied a request for fully-vaccinated healthcare workers to attend attend Game 7 of the series between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens at Scotiabank Arena Monday night.
Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown had been leading the charge in asking the province to allow some 2,500 "healthcare heroes and essential workers" to attend Game 7 of the Leafs vs. Habs series in Toronto.
Inspired by the presence of spectators inside Montreal's Bell Centre for Game 6 of the series on Saturday, Brown launched a petition called Hockey 4 Heroes that stated "essential workers deserve to be rewarded for being on the frontlines of the fight against Covid-19."
Thank you @fordnation for supporting our proposal! #Hockey4Heroes. This is an awesome way to give the Leafs a boost and safely acknowledge our healthcare heroes. 👏👏👏👏#LeafsForever #GoLeafsGo #LeafsvsHabs #onpoli #COVID19Ontario https://t.co/oSYJxfZIyS— Patrick Brown (@patrickbrownont) May 31, 2021
All hopes were thwarted within just a few hours of Brown's petition launch, however, when the Ontario government — the only governing body that could allow such a thing to happen in Toronto — shot down his request.
"The Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health reviewed and approved the NHL's return-to-play plan for the Toronto Maple Leafs and Ottawa Senators. The return-to-play plan includes rigorous health and safety protocols developed to ensure the safety of players, staff, their families, and the community," said a spokesperson for the Ministry of Sport Sunday afternoon.
"At this time, no spectators are allowed to attend games in-person."
"If you are fully vaccinated, you can start doing the things that you had stopped doing because of the pandemic," CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky. https://t.co/1i9PNJwknT— Patrick Brown (@patrickbrownont) May 30, 2021
Fans in Toronto are stoked to now learn that at least a fraction of the healthcare workers Brown had petitioned for will be at the game to cheer on the Leafs.
"Every single day our health care workers put their lives on the line to help others," wrote Ford in his statement Monday morning, noting that the move will not only act to reward their heroic efforts, but to show Ontarians that "the more of us who get vaccinated, the faster we can return to doing the things we miss."
"There's nothing Team Ontario can’t do when we are all working together and I can’t think of a better way to support the Blue and White in this crucial game than having our health care heroes cheer them on in person," continued the premier. "Go Leafs go!"
They have worked tirelessly for us, for well over a year.— Lynn of the Valley 🎉Let's Get Vaccinated🎉 (@LynnHolliday8) May 31, 2021
If anyone deserves to be inside Scotiabank Arena tonight to cheer on our Toronto Maple Leafs, it's fully vaccinated frontline health workers. https://t.co/lQAxErJx9D
Maple Leafs Sports & Entertainment will cover the cost of all 550 tickets, and Scotiabank will provide each frontline worker with a free jersey (presumably a Leafs jersey) to wear.
All invited guests will have received doses of a COVID-19 vaccine at least two weeks ago and typical enhanced public health measures such as screening, masking, distancing and crowd control will be in place throughout the venue, which has a regular capacity of nearly 20,000 people.
As for how eligible workers can score tickets, the province has yet to announce a formal application system, but early reports suggest that some organizations have recieved emails informing employees to enter into a lottery system for tickets to tonight's game.
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