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Ludwig Van
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THE SCOOP | Ontario Venues Complain Of COVID Double Standard

By Anya Wassenberg on October 19, 2021

Music_Venue-photo-_www.piqsels.com

Ontario music and entertainment venue owners are complaining about the application of the latest change in COVID regulations.

Earlier in October, the province lifted capacity restrictions, which limited most venues to 50% capacity with social distancing. However, those rules only applied to certain large venues. That included:

  • Concert venues, theatres and cinemas;
  • Spectator areas of facilities for sports;
  • Meeting and event spaces.

Standing room only

At its core, the issue revolves around the notion that the relaxed restrictions apply only to venues where there is seating. That typically includes arenas, concert venues, theatres, and stadiums.

What it doesn’t usually include are spaces without seating, typically bars, and many smaller and mid-sized music venues. To install seating involves cutting into the space. Jeff Cohen, owner of the Horseshoe Tavern in Toronto said in an interview that putting in seats will cut his capacity nearly in half.

The worry is that bands, particularly touring acts, won’t be able to recoup their expenses with small capacity shows.

“Toronto is often one of their highest paydays on their North American tour,” Cohen notes.

Shows are being cancelled as the venues scramble to find ways to accommodate the regulation. With the regulations changing so often, it’s difficult for promoters and venues to sell tickets for future performances.

“How do we plan when the rules keep changing it seems like on a weekly basis?” Paul Maxwell, owner of Waterloo, Ont. venue Maxwell’s.

The situation mirrors what recently took place in the province of Québec. Bar owners were outraged when the province loosened restrictions on theatres and stadiums. The Québec provincial government just announced on October 14 that bars would be able to operate at full capacity as of November 1.

It remains to be seen whether Ontario will follow their lead.

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