Ontario cuts stadium capacity to 1,000; shortens isolation period for vaccinated

Scotiabank Arena, home the Toronto Maple Leafs, sitting empty. (Frank Gunn/CP)

The Toronto Maple Leafs, Toronto Raptors and Ottawa Senators will be limited to 1,000 people in the arena at home games after the Ontario government announced new rules to combat the current COVID-19 surge on Thursday.

Starting Friday, indoor event venues can have only 1,000 people or 50 per cent capacity, whichever is less.

Previously, indoor event venues were limited to 50 per cent capacity, regardless of size. All concessions also were closed in a previous announcement.

The decision on event venues came on the same day Ontario announced schools wouldn't resume in-person classes until next Wednesday, two days later than scheduled. Ontario also announced a change to its isolation rules, with fully vaccinated people now required to isolate for only five days (down from 10) if their symptoms have improved for at least 24 hours and all public health and safety measures are followed.

The NHL also lowered its isolation period to five days earlier this week, but said it only applies if local public health authorities permit it.

The province announced a record number of COVID cases -- 13,807 -- on Thursday.

Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, which owns the Raptors and Maple Leafs, said there will be no sold tickets at any home games for at least the next three weeks.

The only people let in will be by virtue of league and team requirements.

The first NBA or NHL game impacted by the reduced capacity limit is the Raptors' home game against the Los Angeles Clippers on Friday night at Scotiabank Arena.

The Maple Leafs are scheduled to host the Senators on Saturday.

The Senators are scheduled to host the Minnesota Wild next Monday.

The NHL on Tuesday postponed a Senators game on Dec. 31 and a Leafs game on Jan. 3, along with seven others in Canada, because of arena capacity reasons.

The Raptors have played two home games with 50 per cent capacity (though the arena was less than half full on both occasions), while the Leafs and Senators have played none in front of mandated limited crowds this season because of previous postponements.

Ontario (1,000 people), Manitoba (250 people), Quebec (zero people) are the three provinces now operating at less than 50 per cent capacity for NHL or NBA games. Alberta and B.C. remain at 50 per cent.

The last NHL game in Canada was in Winnipeg on Dec. 17 -- before Manitoba limited crowd sizes.

Meanwhile, Skate Canada announced Thursday no fans will be allowed at the Canadian figure skating championships, Jan. 6-13 at TD Place in Ottawa.

Ontario's decision also will impact the 17 OHL teams in the province, the AHL's Toronto Marlies and Belleville Senators and Raptors 905 of the G League.

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