MONTREAL — Public health experts say Quebec should wait until more people have received a second dose of COVID-19 vaccine before increasing the number of fans allowed to attend Montreal Canadiens home games.
On Tuesday, Quebec Health Minister Christian Dube told reporters that a decision on increasing capacity would come soon. Dube and Premier Francois Legault have both recently said that discussions are ongoing with public health about the possibility of allowing more fans in the arena.
Roxane Borges Da Silva, a public health professor at the Universite de Montreal, says that people who are vaccinated with two doses of vaccine are at low risk of spreading the novel coronavirus and that rapid tests could also be used to help prevent infections from spreading at the arena.
But she says that increasing capacity at a time when 14 per cent of Quebec’s population has received two doses, increases the risk that someone who is infected with a variant of concern could spread it to other fans, particularly in tighter spaces like washrooms or on escalators.
Moshe Lander, a senior lecturer of economics at Concordia University in Montreal, says that allowing more fans would help the team’s bottom line, as National Hockey League teams are more dependent on ticket revenue than other major sports leagues. help the team’s bottom line, as National Hockey League teams are more dependent on ticket revenue than other major sports leagues.
Lander, who specializes in sports economics, says fans do make a difference for the home team, but he worries that making an exception for a sports team could send the wrong message to the public.