The return of Ontario sports arenas spectators is still a month away

Ontario’s plan to relax COVID-19 won’t immediately have an impact on fans for the hockey and basketball clubs operating in the province.

The Ontario government today announced that some indoor venues including cinemas and gyms can now operate at 50% capacity from January 31st.

However, concert venues and large sports arenas will only be allowed to hold 500 people (or half their capacity), until February 21. At a press conference on Thursday, Doug Ford, Ontario Premier said that the capacity will be increased by 50% to reach 50 percent. Limits will also be removed completely March 14.

The 500-person limit is lower than the number already allowed in Ontario. Because of the Omicron variant, which is highly transmissible, the government had to limit indoor venue capacity at large indoor venues at 50% or 1000 people. This was done in response to a sudden increase of Omicron cases.

Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment (the owner of the NHL’s Maple Leafs and NBA Raptors) stated at the time that it would operate its teams with no fans for at most three weeks after the restriction was implemented.

Ontario’s capacity limitations have caused the NHL to postpone several Maple Leafs/Ottawa Senators home games. The league hopes to reschedule them once restrictions are eased.

These restrictions affect all clubs of the Major Junior Ontario Hockey League.

According to the Ontario Health Authority, 4,061 people were admitted to hospital on Thursday with COVID-19. 594 people were admitted to intensive care units. This is the second consecutive day that hospitalizations have fallen since a high of 4,183 on Tuesday, but ICU occupancy continues to rise.

According to the province, another 75 people were killed in this month’s violence.