THE SCOOP | Ontario Brings Back Capacity Limits For Large Venues And Outdoor Events

By Anya Wassenberg on December 16, 2021

Roy Thomson Hall (Photo: Jag Gundu)
Roy Thomson Hall (Photo: Jag Gundu)

It’s back to capacity limits for audiences in Ontario, as premier Doug Ford announced in a press conference on December 15, 2021.

With the Omicron COVID-19 variant filling hospital beds, the province of Ontario announced renewed restrictions for larger indoor venues.

As of Saturday, December 18 at 12:01 a.m., the new rules will be implemented, which include a 50% limit on audiences at sports or entertainment venues with capacity for 1,000 people or more, and notably, outdoor gatherings as well.

In Toronto, that will include a number of major venues, including the Scotiabank Arena, Roy Thomson Hall, the newly reopened Massey Hall, Koerner Hall, Princess of Wales Theatre, and Meridian Hall, among other arts venues.

A press release issued by the province noted the reasons for the new measures. “This measure is being taken to reduce opportunities for close contact in high-risk indoor settings with large crowds and when masks are not always worn.”

The new rules apply to specific situations, which include:

  • concert and sports venues, racing tracks
  • theatres and cinemas
  • studio audiences in commercial film and television production
  • museums and galleries
  • aquariums, zoos and science centres
  • historic sites and landmarks, botanical gardens
  • gaming establishments such as casinos and bingo halls
  • fairs and festivals, including rural events

COVID Updates

It was only in October that capacity limits were lifted, before the Omicron variant began to make its way into the province.

“I know this will be tough, but it’s an important step in ensuring we slow the spread of Omicron as we urgently accelerate boosters because, as I said earlier, it’s all hands on deck,” Premier Doug Ford said as part of the news conference. “This is a call to arms. And now more than ever, we need everyone to be doing their part.””

  • The announcement comes after Ontario posted its highest daily COVID case count in more than six months, totalling 1,808 confirmed new cases.
  • All adults in Ontario who had their last vaccination shot at least three months ago will be eligible for the booster shot as of December 20.

The Omicron variant is expected to become the dominant strain of the COVID-19 virus in the province over the coming months.

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