COVID-19: Ontario lifts capacity limits for theatres, venues; restaurants, gyms among those left out

Some small businesses are calling for capacity limit increases after Ontario adjusted the rules for some facilities last week. Matthew Bingley reports.

The Ontario government announced the lifting of capacity limits for certain locations in the province for, however, restaurants and gyms remain left off the list.

Cinemas, theatres, spectator sports venues, concert venues, meeting and event spaces, horseracing and car racing tracks are the venues permitted to open to 100 per cent capacity as of 12:01 a.m. on Saturday.

The government said it’s making the changes based on high vaccination levels, stable public health indicators and the vaccine certificate requirements that took effect last month.

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“As we continue to see more Ontarians roll up their sleeves with over 22-million doses administered, our government is cautiously lifting capacity limits in select settings where we know proof of vaccination requirements are providing an added layer of protection to Ontarians,” said Minster of Health Christine Elliott in a release Friday.

While the capacity limits are lifted, health officials are still urging venues and locations to maintain safety measures including face coverings, screening and contact tracing.

Proof of vaccination is still required for outdoor settings where normal capacity is maximum 20,000 or more.

Noticeably left off the list are restaurants and gyms who have been calling on the province to lift their limits, especially in the wake of the implementation of the vaccine certificate which went into effect on Sept. 22.

However, in the release the province said capacity limits will remain in effect for all those not mentioned.

“The Chief Medical Officer of Health and the government will continue to review data and trends in key public health and health care indicators to determine the necessary and appropriate measures to protect the health and safety of Ontarians.”

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As of 8 p.m. on Thursday, more than 10.6 million people are fully immunized with two doses, which is 82 per cent of the eligible (12 and older) population. First dose coverage stands at 86.8 per cent.

“… We are overjoyed to see this day arrive when we are able to welcome a full venue to cheer on the Maple Leafs and Raptors,” said Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment in a release shortly after the announcement.

The CEO of the Canadian Live Music Association said she was “thrilled” with the government announcement.

“It is absolutely a move in the right direction and we’re really excited to see it,” Erin Benjamin said.

“I’m excited for industry and not just the venues and the artists but all of the businesses that support that activity.”

With files from The Canadian Press

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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