Montreal to host outdoor Canadiens games viewing after request for more fans in Bell Centre denied

A young Montreal Canadiens fan waves the team flag amongst a crowd of several thousand, outside the Bell Centre in Montreal prior to game 6 NHL Stanley Cup playoff hockey semifinal action against the Vegas Golden Knights, in Montreal, Thursday, June 24, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Peter McCabe

Montreal has announced it will set up outdoor viewing parties to allow fans to watch the Canadiens play in the Stanley Cup final, a day after Quebec public health denied a request to allow more fans into the Bell Centre.

The city said the free viewings will take place in the city's entertainment district beginning with Friday's game.

The announcement comes as the Quebec government confirms it refused a request by the Canadiens organization to allow about 10,500 fans into the team's home arena, which would have represented half capacity.

The government said in a statement this morning that it decided to maintain the current limit of 3,500 people in order to limit the spread of COVID-19.

But the health department says it will increase the number of people allowed to gather at outdoor festivals and events up to 5,000 beginning Friday.

The government says people who are seated must be kept 1.5 metres from those who don't live with them, and masks are recommended when people are moving.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 1, 2021