Ontario’s top doctor says OHL, CFL games in Mississauga, Hamilton could allow more vaxxed fans


Published August 24, 2021 at 8:32 pm

The Mississauga Steelheads' game on Dec. 4 has been postponed due to COVID-19 concerns with their Ontario Hockey League opponent.

It is not his call, but Ontario’s top health official says he would support lifting capacity limits in venues with mandatory vaccination requirements.

That potentially open the door to larger crowds at live sports events in Mississauga, Hamilton, St. Catharines and Oshawa. The teams in those markets are either in leagues that have announced a strict COVID-19 vaccination policy for fans, or have worked with the city to develop a policy that will take effect early next month.

Events in indoor arenas are capped at 1,000 spectators and games in stadiums are capped at 15,000.

During a briefing on Tuesday (Aug. 24), Ontario chief medical officer of health Dr. Kieran Moore said he hoped the Progressive Conservative government would approve raising capacity.

“I would think that the government should assess that if everyone in that environment is immunized then that’s a very low-risk event,” he said. “So I would hope that the government will make a decision to enable them to move forward even if we have other restrictions in place.”

The Ontario Hockey League said on Aug. 21 that it would require vaccination for anyone who wants to attend a game or practice. Children under 12, who might not yet be eligible to receive their first vaccine, have to be accompanied by an adult all times. The policy applies to the league’s 17 franchises in Ontario, including the Mississauga Steelheads, Hamilton Bulldogs, Oshawa Generals and Niagara IceDogs.

As far as teams that play in the great outdoors are concerned, football’s Hamilton Tiger-Cats and soccer’s Forge FC announced Monday that all employees, event staff, spectators and media will be required to provide proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test result in order to enter Tim Hortons Field. The policy takes effects for the Tiger-Cats’ home opener on Sept. 6 and the Forge FC’s home match on Sept. 11.

Seven of the Canadian Football League’s nine teams will soon be covered by a vaccine policy. The Winnipeg Blue Bombers were the first to do so, and all three Ontario teams have followed suit. The Calgary Stampeders said Monday that they would add a policy for all fans who are vaccine-eligible.

British Columbia Lions and Montreal Alouettes games would fall under the vaccine passport system that the B.C. and Quebec governments are introducing next month.

Saskatchewan and Edmonton are the exceptions, with the former making masks optional.

At the briefing, Moore said unvaccinated individuals in Ontario are 29 times more likely to end up in hospital with COVID-19 than those who are fully vaccinated. They are 48 times to require intensive care unit treatment.

“We can build more ICUs or we can immunize and prevent illness,” he said.

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