Ontario caps arena crowds at 1,000 for sporting events as COVID-19 cases rise


Published December 30, 2021 at 3:55 pm

TORONTO — The Ontario government has capped the crowd size for indoor venues at 1,000 spectators or 50 per cent capacity, whichever is less, as the province deals with an outbreak of COVID-19 cases.

The announcement made Thursday by Dr. Kieran Moore, the province’s chief medical officer, will significantly affect the NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs and Ottawa Senators, the NBA’s Toronto Raptors and Ontario Hockey League teams based in the province.

The new capacity limits will go into effect Friday. The Raptors are scheduled to host the Los Angeles Clippers that night.

The Maple Leafs’ next two home games are Saturday against Ottawa and Wednesday against Edmonton. Whether they go on as scheduled remains to be seen, as the NHL may choose to postpone them until the cap on crowd size in Ontario is lifted.

The Maple Leafs, Senators and Raptors started their respective seasons operating at full capacity, but that was slashed to 50 per cent earlier this month as the latest COVID-19 wave fuelled by the highly contagious Omicron variant started to take hold in Ontario.

The news comes as the province has set several records for daily COVID-19 infections in quick succession, with the latest peak — 13,807 new infections — reported Thursday. The province also recorded eight new deaths due to COVID-19.

Health Minister Christine Elliott said Thursday that 965 people were hospitalized with COVID-19, including 200 people in intensive care.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 30, 2021.

The Canadian Press

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