Just in time for the Thanksgiving long weekend, there are now no capacity limits at movie theatres or concert venues! If you spend the holiday packing the house for a movie or your favourite band, then this going to be very good news. Also this week, our local public health unit has said that they’re joining the province’s plan to distribute rapid COVID-19 antigen tests.
On Friday afternoon, the Government of Ontario announced the lifting of capacity limits on some large public spaces. Starting at 12:01 am on Saturday, concert venues, theatres, cinemas, spectator areas at sports and rec venues, meeting and event spaces, race tracks, and commercial film and production studios will be allowed up to 100 per cent capacity. So long as these venues are observing precautions like proof of vaccination, masking and social distance, the government feels confident that opening all these venues back up is good and safe.
“As we continue to see more Ontarians roll up their sleeves with over 22 million doses administered, our government is cautiously lifting capacity limits in select settings where we know proof of vaccination requirements are providing an added layer of protection to Ontarians,” said Minister of Health Christine Elliott in a statement. “The fight against COVID-19 is not over and we must all remain vigilant by continuing to follow the public health measures we know work and keep us safe, and receiving your first or second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine if you have not already done so.”
Capacity limits on all other venues will remain in effect for the time being, though the Government of Ontario said that they’re monitoring case loads. Province-wide in Ontario on Friday there are now 4,517 total active cases of COVID-19, which is the lowest that the number of active cases has been since around mid-August. There were 573 new cases on Friday, and 587 on Thursday. Two-thirds of the new cases are in the unvaccinated.
“Now is not the time to let our guard down. We must all continue doing our part and continue strictly following the measures that remain in place and get as many people as we can fully vaccinated, especially as we enter the holiday season,” added Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Kieran Moore.
This news comes on the heels of an announcement from the government earlier this week about targeted COVID-19 rapid antigen screening at schools and licensed daycares. The testing program will support voluntary, rapid asymptomatic screening for unvaccinated children and students to help identify and prevent transmission of COVID-19 in schools and childcares.
“I am pleased to see the Province add this layer of protection,” said local Medical Officer of Health Dr. Nicola Mercer in a statement. “This program adds another local tool to fight this pandemic in Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph. Locally, we will use the best available health data to ensure these tests are used as effectively as possible to protect children who are most at risk from COVID-19.”
According to Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health, they will be using the available health data to find the most appropriate locations to implement testing, the tests themselves will be handed out by the school board or the facility’s management, and any child with a positive test will have to then get a lab-based PCR test at a local assessment centre. Any child receiving a negative test will be able to continue in-person learning.
“COVID-19 can seriously impact a child’s health and their social and school lives,” Mercer added. “Testing gives us another way to protect individual children and those they live with, learn with and play with.”