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THE SCOOP | Ontario Moves To Stage 3 July 16 — And Live Music Is Back

By Anya Wassenberg on July 9, 2021

Artists of the Glenn Gould School vocal program (Photo courtesy of Koerner Hall)
Artists of the Glenn Gould School vocal program (Photo courtesy of Koerner Hall)

Live music and performance are on the way back in Ontario. While the details of Ontario’s reopening plan are still in the works, the government announced that the province will be entering Stage 3 on July 16, 2021.

“Ontario has continued to see improvements in key health indicators, allowing the province to move to Step Three of the Roadmap and safely resume more of the activities we’ve missed,” said Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health in a media release.

As of July 8, more than 77 percent of Ontarians 12 and older had received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, with more than 50 percent having received their second. It adds up to more than 16.6 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine in total across the province. Other indicators, including the number of hospitalizations, ICU capacity, and the weekly case rates, also influenced the decision.

The provincial case rate dropped by more than 23 percent between June 29 and July 5.

What it means for the arts

Ontarians will be able to return to indoor shopping and dining, sports and rec facilities. Here are the details when it comes to the arts and performance. In general, masking, social distancing, and contact tracing are in effect.


  • Indoor social gatherings and organized public events are authorized up to 25 people;
  • Indoor wedding services and funeral services are permitted with physical distancing;
  • Indoor dining permitted with the only stipulation being masks when you’re not at the table, and physical distancing between tables;
  • Indoor meetings and event spaces are limited to 50 percent capacity, or 1,000 people, whichever is less.

Concerts, theatres and cinemas:

  • Up to 50 percent capacity indoors, to a maximum limit of 1,000 people for seated events;
  • Up to 75 percent capacity outdoors to a maximum limit of 5,000 people for unseated events;
  • Up to 75 per cent capacity outdoors to a maximum of 15,000 people for events with fixed seating (whichever is less);
  • On stage, performers must be distanced at least two metre apart, and at least two metres from the audience or with a plexiglass barrier between stage and audience.
  • Indoor bars, nightclubs or restaurants where what the province is calling “dance facilities” are provided, are permitted up to 25 percent capacity to a maximum limit of 250 people.

Notably, one part of the regulation seems to preclude walk-ins and last minute tickets due to contact tracing requirements.  Reservations will be required to all indoor events.

Fairs, rural exhibitions, festivals

  • For outdoor events and exhibitions, the limit is 75 per cent capacity.
  • Indoors, spectators are limited to the number who can safely be distanced at least two metres from each other, with an upper limit of 50 percent capacity.
  • For a concert or other performance at a festival, the usual limits for such performances apply.

Also reopening

  • Amusement parks and indoor fitness facilities can reopen at 50 percent capacity.
  • Professional sports venues will be able to reopen to up to 15,000 seated spectators seated outdoors, or 75 percent of pre-pandemic capacity. Indoors, the limits are 1,000 spectators or half of pre-pandemic capacity, whichever is smaller.

The provincial government promised businesses it would provide the details before the changes take effect.

“Businesses do need to have this information in order to be able to plan, and it’s something that we are actively working on now,” Minister Christine Elliott told reporters on Wednesday. “We will release this information well in advance.”

The new Stage 3 measures will take effect at 12:01 a.m. on the morning of Friday, July 16, 2021.


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