A back-and-forth first round playoff series has stretched the competition beyond the ice.
For Game 6 at the Bell Centre, the Montreal Canadiens opened their arena to 2,500 fans who were willing to pay the price. Now for Game 7, the Toronto Maple Leafs are allowing a total of 550 fully vaccinated health-care workers to attend the series-clinching game at Scotiabank Arena.
“This is well below the arena’s capacity,” Ontario Premier Doug Ford said in a statement. “With these health-care workers having received both doses of a COVID-19 vaccine at least two weeks ago, and with precautionary measures in place like screening, masking, distancing, enhanced cleaning and crowd control, public health officials are confident we can put these special fans in the stands safely and with minimal risk.
“Every single day our health-care workers put their lives on the line to help others. This small token of appreciation doesn’t measure up to the sacrifices they’ve made during COVID-19, but it is an opportunity for us to recognize their heroic efforts to keep each and every one of us safe. It also shows that the more of us who get vaccinated, the faster we can return to doing the things we miss.”
The announcement comes less than 24 hours after the government rejected a proposal from Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown, who asked fans to sign an online petition to let some fully vaccinated health-care workers attend the game.
“The Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health reviewed and approved the NHL’s return-to-play plan for the Toronto Maple Leafs and Ottawa Senators. The return-to-play plan includes rigorous health and safety protocols developed to ensure the safety of players, staff, their families, and the community,” a spokesperson for the Ontario Ministry of Heritage, Tourism, Culture and Sport told CTV News Toronto on Sunday. “At this time, no spectators are allowed to attend games in-person.”
“The province will continue to follow the advice of the Chief Medical Officer of Health, other health experts and local public health to determine when and if it is safe for measures to be lifted based off the Roadmap to Reopen.”
On Monday, Ontario reported 916 new COVID-19 cases, the lowest single-day total since Feb. 17, while the rolling seven-day average is now at 1,078, down from 1,775 last week.
This will be the first sporting event in Ontario with a live audience since March 2020. Those in attendance will have the cost of their ticket covered by Maple Leafs Sports & Entertainment and will also receive a free jersey.
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