Thu. May 26th, 2022

Just in time for the hockey and basketball seasons, Ontario COVID-19 raises capacity limits in some places where proof of vaccination is required — such as movie theaters, concert halls, and Scotiabank Arena — but not in restaurants and gyms.

The changes, which take effect at 12:01 Saturday, allows 100 percent capacity at the designated locations, but leaves the restaurant and fitness industry disappointed and in danger.

“This means that fitness centers and dance studios, yoga studios and bowling alleys will still be at 50 percent. In the meantime, the Leafs will have full capacity for their home picker, ”said Ryan Mallough of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business.

In a statement late Friday afternoon, the health ministry said full capacity will be allowed in theaters, horse racing tracks, commercial film and television productions with study audiences and spectator areas in sports and recreational facilities.

“We are very excited to see this day arrive when we can welcome a full venue to cheer on the Maple Leafs and Raptors,” said Michael Friisdahl, CEO of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment.

Meeting and event rooms are also included in the relaxation of restrictions, but indoor capacity will be limited to the number of patrons who can maintain physical distance.

Government officials said there have been “a limited number of outbreaks” in the settings going to full capacity.

The policy change came amid continuing pressure from the restaurant and fitness industry to ease 50 percent capacity limits for them, with the fourth wave of the pandemic under control for now.

But chief physician Dr. Kieran Moore said it is too early to do so, although key pandemic indicators such as new case numbers and hospitalizations are stable or improving.

“Now is not the time to fail our guard,” he added, promising to continue reviewing data on these sectors.

An organization representing thousands of restaurants said it would love to see that data.

“They refuse to show us anything,” Restaurants Canada Vice President James Rilett told Star, urging the province to increase financial support for struggling restaurant owners.

“We were the first to be hit. We are still the ones who have limitations left. It’s hard not to take it personally. It seems that our industry is constantly being designated, ”he added.

“Since the vaccine passes have been introduced, we have members who report anything from 15 to 25 percent lower turnover. They just have fewer people coming out. ”

Ontario’s non-essential companies and venue vaccine system went into effect Sept. 22. Cartridges must show proof that they are at least two weeks after their second COVID-19 vaccination.

For venues without multiple capacity limits, the government said public health and workplace safety measures such as face masks, screening and collection of information for contact tracking can continue, but physical distance requirements are removed with limited exceptions.

Evidence of vaccination continues in outdoor environments such as sports stadiums, where the maximum capacity is often 20,000 or more.

Capacity limits were last eased on 24 September.

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