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Starting Saturday, sports teams from within the Canadian province of Ontario will not be allowed to host more than 50 percent capacity of fans based on an update to public health policy targeting indoor venues that host more than 1,000 patrons.
Announced Wednesday, Ontario’s government will revert to the highly unpopular COVID restriction of limiting fan capacity to counter a recent spike in COVID cases, among the emergence of the Omicron variant. Per Sportsnet, the reinstituted mandate will affect the NBA’s Toronto Raptors and the NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs and Ottawa Senators. Aside from these franchises, 15 other teams within Ontario will be subject to the COVID restriction.
Toronto’s Scotiabank Arena and Ottawa’s Canadian Tire Centre will be forced to adapt to the new policy — set to take place this week — even if either venue has already sold admissions to contests scheduled for Saturday (Dec. 18) and onward.
“Sports games, large concerts — people aren’t masking as much as (organizers) implore them to mask,” commented Ontario official Doug Ford. “They all aren’t masking. You’re sitting side-by-side for hours. Compared to a restaurant, that’s comparing apples and bananas as far as I’m concerned, not even apples and oranges.”
The Ontario government released a statement on the mandate.
“This measure is being taken to reduce opportunities for close contact in high-risk indoor settings with large crowds and when masks are not always worn. Our ticketing team is currently working through the logistics of implementing this change and will provide follow-up details to all ticket holders within 24 hours.”
Data on the latest Omicron mutation has addressed it as a less-lethal but more transmissible iteration compared to previous versions.
Check out Clay’s take on how the spread of Omicron could actually help expedite America’s exit out of the pandemic.
Follow along on Twitter: @AlejandroAveela