Ontario enters Step 3 of reopening early, CFL teams can welcome 15,000 fans

Photo courtesy: Alex Lupul/AlexLupul.com

CFL teams in Ontario have received a present on the eve of training camp, as the provincial government announced on Friday they would be entering Step 3 of the provinces reopening plan early.

Ontario will shift to Step 3 next Friday, July 16, five days ahead of schedule. The announcement means indoor gyms and fitness centers are now open for regular Ontarians, theatres, casinos and cinemas can have 50 percent capacity, and restaurants are restriction-free, but it is also big news for the CFL.

The announcement puts definite numbers on the number of fans allowed at outdoor sporting venues like BMO Field, Tim Hortons Field, and TD Place. 15,000 spectator or 75 percent of a facility’s capacity, whichever is lesser, to begin taking in live sports as early as next week.

The CFL faced considerable uncertainty regarding when fans would be able to be in the stands in Ontario, opting to push many early season games. 15,000 is a positive low water mark for attendance, with the possibility that the capacity ceiling is heightened by the time the Toronto Argonauts host their home opener on August 21. The Ottawa Redblacks follow them on August 28, while the Hamilton Tiger-Cats wait until September 6.

Ontario will remain in Step 3 for at least three weeks and “until 80 per cent of the eligible population aged 12 and over has received one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 75 per cent have received their second, with no public health unit having less than 70 per cent of their population fully vaccinated.”

Once that benchmark has been hit, most restrictions will be lifted and the CFL could be looking at three full stadiums.

As of Wednesday, 79 percent of adults in Ontario have received one dose and 51% are fully vaccinated.