Wed. May 18th, 2022

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Cinemas, theaters, spectator sports venues and several other rooms in Ontario that require proof of COVID-19 vaccination may open to full capacity this weekend.

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The government said on Friday that the decision was based on high vaccination levels, stable public health indicators and the requirements for vaccine certificate, which came into force last month.

“Our government is cautiously raising capacity limits in selected settings, knowing that evidence of vaccination requirements provides an extra layer of protection for Ontarians,” Health Minister Christine Elliott said in a statement urging people to continue to follow public health orders and get vaccinated .

Concert venues, meeting and event venues, commercial film and TV productions with studio audiences, outdoor areas with a capacity of less than 20,000 people, horse racing and racetracks are also among the venues that are allowed to open for 100% capacity from 12:01 am on Saturday.

The province said there have been a “limited number of outbreaks” within this framework and other public health measures will continue to apply.

These measures include masking, screening and collecting contract tracing information.

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The province said no two-meter physical distance is required in places where capacity limits lift, with some exceptions. It said indoor meeting and event rooms still need to limit patrons to the number they can maintain physical distance.

The executive director of the Canadian Live Music Association said she was “excited” about the government’s announcement.

“It’s definitely a step in the right direction and we’re really excited to see it,” said Erin Benjamin.

“I’m excited about the industry and not just the venues and the artists, but all the companies that support this activity.”

She said the group is in favor of the same being true of other venues that are still subject to capacity constraints.

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A spokeswoman for Cineplex said the announcement was “welcome news” for the cinema chain.

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“We are reviewing today’s exciting announcement and what it will mean for movie lovers in Ontario,” Sarah Van Lange said in a statement. “In the meantime, we will continue to focus on the health and safety of our employees and guests.”

Outdoor settings where the normal maximum capacity is 20,000 people or more should ask people to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination.

Capacity limits remain applicable to all other settings. The province said it continues to review these measures, which still apply to other options requesting evidence of vaccination such as restaurants and gyms.

Nearly 87% of eligible Ontarians had received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, and almost 82% had both doses.

Ontario on Friday reported 573 new COVID-19 cases and 10 new deaths. There were 154 people in intensive care units due to COVID-19, of which 15 of them reported being fully vaccinated.

– With files from David Friend.

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