NBA, NHL games limited to 50% capacity in Ontario

The government in Ontario has announced that indoor sports events in the Canadian province will be restricted to 50% capacity due to an increase in the number of COVID-19 cases.

The ruling will affect the NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs and Ottawa Senators, as well as the NBA’s Toronto Raptors. The Raptors and Maple Leafs play at Scotiabank Arena, whose parent company Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment (MLSE) said it supported the province’s decision.

The restrictions will be in place from Saturday, when the Raptors are due to host the Golden State Warriors. The Senators will host the Boston Bruins at Canadian Tire Centre on Sunday.

Scotiabank Arena will have a mask policy in place for Raptors and Maple Leafs games. The Raptors only returned to the arena in October after the team was forced to play the entire 2020-21 season at Florida’s Amalie Arena.

MLSE said in a statement: “As has been the case throughout the pandemic, MLSE remains fully supportive of the province’s decision, and we continue to work closely with our government and public health partners to protect against the spread of COVID-19 within our community.”

The new restrictions in Ontario will also apply to other indoor venues with a capacity of 1,000 or more, such as theatres, cinemas, museums and galleries. Ontario is the first Canadian province or US state to reintroduce capacity restrictions for NBA and NHL games.

With COVID-19 cases rising due to the emergence of the Omicron variant, the Associated Press news agency has reported that the NHL is reintroducing stricter COVID-19 measures such as daily testing and bubble restrictions for players on away trips.

Image: Christian Mendoza on Unsplash