COVID-19: Ontario eases capacity limits for concerts, sports and cinemas

Indoor events will now be able to host up to 10,000 people while outdoor events like Blue Jays games will go up to 30,000


Ontario’s vaccine pass system went into effect this week, and now the province is increasing capacity for events that require proof of vaccination.

Starting September 25 at 12:01 am, capacity limits will increase at a variety of indoor and outdoor settings, including sporting events, concerts, theatres and cinemas.

At those indoor settings where “vaccine passports” are in effect – such as cinemas, concert venues, convention centres, banquet halls, racing venues and commercial film and TV studios with live audiences – capacity will go up to 50 per cent capacity or 10,000 people (whichever is less).

Previously, the maximum cap for indoor events during step 3 of reopening was 1,000 people.

Outdoor events will stay at 75 per cent capacity, but the outdoor maximum capacity for standing events will go up from 5,000 to 15,000 and seated events will go from 15,000 up to 30,000.

Bigger limits for the Toronto Blue Jays and Maple Leafs

The Rogers Centre, which was previously capped at 15,000, will now be considered an outdoor venue even when the dome is closed – based on a ventilation review and advice from Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Kieran Moore. That will mean up to 30,000 people will now be able to attend Toronto Blue Jays home games while they make a push for the playoffs.

The Toronto Maple Leafs will begin their pre-season at Scotiabank Arena tomorrow, September 25, and will operate at 50 per cent capacity, which is close to 10,000 fans. This will be the first sporting event open to the public at the arena since the pandemic started. The Raptors, who played their home games in Tampa, Florida last season, will also return to Scotiabank Arena when the NBA season starts.

Proof of vaccination will now also be required in outdoor settings with a normal maximum capacity of 20,000 people.

“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 Christine Elliott, Ontario Minister of Health said in a statement. “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.”

No changes for smaller indoor club clubs shows

For indoor concert venues smaller than an arena or big theatre, the new capacity limit does not change much.

Those venues will still operate at half capacity with seated and distanced tickets. Venue operators such as the Horseshoe Tavern’s Jeff Cohen have complained that with those requirements, the capacity is actually much lower – closer to 20 per cent.

With those requirements still in place, many concerts, which have been sold to 100 per cent capacity, will likely continue to be postponed or cancelled. Some – including shows from Dinosaur Jr. and Julien Baker – already have. Others have moved to different venues.

Arlo Parks will now play her September 28 show at Queen Elizabeth Theatre instead of Axis Club – likely a result of selling more tickets than they had the capacity for at the smaller venue. A pair of concerts by Jungle on October 12 and 13 originally scheduled for Queen Elizabeth Theatre, meanwhile, have been moved to the outdoor CityView Drive-In.

Restaurants, whose capacity is determined by how many people they can fit inside with tables distanced six feet apart, will also remain at the same limit.

@trapunski

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