Ontario sport minister Lisa MacLeod will be monitoring the Maple Leafs fans who were allowed at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto for CFL attendance possibilities in 2021.
550 fully vaccinated healthcare workers were given the go ahead to watch the Canadiens knock the blue and white out of the playoffs in Game 7 live on Monday, May 31. It was the first fans in stands in the province in over 443 days since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We’ll see in the next couple of weeks how that turned out. We are still in pre-step one, so we’ll see how quickly we advance,” MacLeod said during a videoconference.
Premier Doug Ford has a three-step reopening plan with vaccine thresholds being the key. For step one to begin, 60 percent of adults must have one dose of the vaccine. Step two requires 70 percent of adults having one dose and 20 percent being fully vaccinated. And step three, 80 percent of adults have one dose and 25 percent are fully vaccinated.
“Everything is contingent upon inoculations as well as the case counts in the province, and that’s when we get to proceed,” MacLeod said.
“I’m optimistic that we are going to meet the targets in step one, step two, and step three, either on or before the dates.”
The province will remain at each step for at least 21 days to evaluate impacts on public health and health system indicators. If all goes according to plan, step two could be reached in early July, with the third and final step potentially coming in August. That could end up timing out perfectly with the three-down league’s targeted date of August 5.
“We’re not ready to green-light them now, but I do feel optimistic. I do continue to have these conversations with my cabinet colleagues in terms of what a framework will look like for that return to play. And what a return to fans in stands will look like,” MacLeod said.
The CFL has delayed the start date of the 2021 season while planning a 14-game schedule culminating in a Grey Cup currently slated for December 12. For the timeline to be met, the league requires ‘a significant number of fans’ to be allowed in stadiums by municipal, provincial, and federal governments.
“We’re looking more to step three. How quickly we get into that 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,” MacLeod said.
“I have taken proposals to various cabinet committees to get feedback, and that’s now with the chief medical officer of health. I’m not able to commit today, but certainly that work continues to be done and we continue to work with the health table.”
MacLeod and her ministry are in constant contact with the league’s three teams in the province as regular conversations are ongoing with the Redblacks, Argos, and Ticats. If the Leafs spectators aren’t found to have any virus issues post-game, it will bode well for the CFL’s franchises in Ontario.