COVID-19: Ontario lifts capacity limits on all live concerts


Ontario is lifting capacity restrictions on all live concerts as well as organized outdoor events.

On Thursday, the Canadian Live Music Association tweeted: “Effective immediately, live concerts are no longer subject to standing or seated restrictions. As of right now, shows can be standing or seated at full capacity.”

The association thanked Heritage, Sport and Tourism Minister Lisa MacLeod for “continued support for our vibrant sector.”

The move comes as the province approved regulatory amendments on Wednesday night that lift capacity limits on all organized public events held outdoors, such as Santa Claus parades and Remembrance Day ceremonies, as long as attendees wear masks when physical distancing is not possible.

Limits are also lifted on other outdoor spaces, such as recreational amenities like ski hills, festivals, fairs, rural exhibitions, as well as outdoor areas of museums, aquariums, zoos and science centres.

Outdoor social gatherings are still capped at 100 and proof-of-vaccination is required at organized outdoor events of 20,000 people or more.

The Ford government lifted capacity limits on most places where proof of vaccination is required on Monday, including restaurants, bars and gyms, as part of a gradual plan to end all pandemic restrictions by March.

The province previously lifted restrictions on seated live event venues – including concert halls, arenas, cinemas and theatres – on October 9 and then announced that capacity limits would end for general admission concerts, nightclubs, strip clubs and other businesses with dancefloors on November 15.

Many promoters and venue owners in the live music sector were left fuming when the province only allowed large arenas and other seated venues to return to 100 per cent capacity on October 19 while general admission, standing-room clubs that host live music remained restricted.

Benjamin tells NOW the only thing that changes is live concerts have capacity limits lifted today instead of November 15. Vaccine certificates are required to enter live music venues and masks must still be worn.

And dancing is not allowed among full capacity crowds at live music venues. Under Ontario’s current regulations, if dancing is allowed at an event then the capacity of 25 per cent (to maximum of 250) still applies, Benjamin says.

“However, we are hoping that November 15th will bring increased limits.”

She says it didn’t make sense to lump live music in with nightclubs and strip clubs under the capacity regulations.

“The act of standing and listening to music was already happening in a lot of different contexts.”

In an an open letter to Premier Doug Ford dated October 14, the Canadian Live Music Association said there was a “lack of clarity around [the October 9] regulatory change, which treats some sectors differently than others.

“The science behind why some sectors can now open at full capacity and not others is still unclear, as no explanation has been given for this decision-making,” the letter added.

As COVID-19 restrictions have gradually eased, live touring has returned across North America but many big acts have been skipping Toronto due to the pandemic restrictions.

Local promoters have been selling tickets at 100 per cent capacity for shows in September onward despite Ontario only allowing those venues to operate at reduced capacity. As a result, many shows have been cancelled or postponed, leaving ticket holders in an uncertain situation.

The province had indicated to the sector that live music would be able to return sometime in fall 2021, Benjamin explains, but no firm dates were given until recently.

“It’s a 100 per cent-capacity business model,” she says. “The dollars and cents don’t work in some rooms without 100 per cent.”




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