Ontario to completely open theatres, sports venues Saturday

The Capitol Theatre, February 2020. (Photo by Maureen Revait)

Some places of entertainment and sports will be fully opened once again.

The Ontario government announced Friday afternoon that it will lift COVID-19 capacity restrictions on select indoor and outdoor venues, effective 12:01 a.m. Saturday.

The venues include the following.

• Concert halls, music venues, theatres, and cinemas 

• Spectator areas of sports venues and fitness facilities, not including gyms or personal training

• Meeting and event spaces, though indoor meeting spaces must still limit capacity to allow for physical distancing

• Horse racetracks, auto racetracks, and similar venues

• Commercial film, television, and radio production facilities that use a studio audience

Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott said that with health care indicators stable or improving, this cautious approach was ideal to stimulate the economy, and take another step closer to normalcy. The government also said there were a limited number of outbreaks at these places.

“As we continue to see more Ontarians roll up their sleeves with over 22 million doses administered, our government is cautiously lifting capacity limits in select settings where we know the proof of vaccination requirements are providing an added layer of protection to Ontarians,” said Elliott. “The fight against COVID-19 is not over, and we must all remain vigilant by continuing to follow the public health measures we know work and keep us safe, and receiving your first or second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine if you have not already done so.”

Precautionary methods still apply at these facilities, with physical distancing, mask use, screening, and information collection for contact tracing in place. Proof of vaccination requirements still apply.

Capacity limits still apply in other non-essential businesses, such as indoor bars and restaurants, as well as gyms.

The Ministry of Health said since the vaccine “passport” system went into effect, there has been an increase in Ontarians getting a COVID-19 vaccine. Among those 12 and older, 86.8 per cent have gotten at least a first dose. For both doses, the number is at 81.9 per cent.