No fans in stadiums yet: MacLeod

Health-Care workers cheer before the Toronto Maple Leafs play against the Montreal Canadiens during first period game seven NHL Stanley Cup playoff hockey action in Toronto on Monday, May 31, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

Less than a day after letting spectators into game seven of the NHL playoff series between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Montreal Canadiens in Toronto, Ontario’s sport minister says Ontarians still have to wait to fill stands in stadiums on a regular basis.

Under Ontario’s current reopening plan, larger indoor and outdoor gatherings and organized public events will be allowed, with restrictions, under step three, which isn't scheduled to come into effect until later this summer.

Lisa MacLeod, the minister for culture, sports and tourism, says she’s continuing to work with all three CFL teams in Ontario, including the Ottawa REDBLACKS, in terms of return to play plans and what a return to fans in the stands would look like.

“We’re looking more, I think, to step three. How quickly we get into that, again, is determined upon whether or not we’ve got a certain amount of vaccines done, what the case counts are, what our hospitals and ICUs looks like,” she told reporters Tuesday. “We continue to look at this, not just from a sport perspective, but also from a live music and performing arts perspective; they are very similar. I have taken proposals to various cabinet committees to get feedback, and that’s now with the chief medical officer of health. We do continue to have regular conversations with the CFL through the ministry.”

MacLeod also said she’s hopeful to have fans in the stand for this November’s Grey Cup in Hamilton.

Step one of Ontario's plan, tentatively slated to begin June 14, requires that at least 60 per cent of adults in the province have had at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, which has already been achieved. Step two requires a vaccination coverage of 70 per cent first doses and 20 per cent second doses, while step three kicks in after 70 to 80 per cent of adults have one shot and 25 per cent have had two.

Each step also lasts a minimum of 21 days to give the province time to monitor COVID-19 case counts and hospitalizations.