Live Updates: Ontario COVID Restrictions And Mandates

Written By Dave Briggs on December 20, 2021 - Last Updated on March 21, 2022
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When Premier Doug Ford declared Ontario’s first state of emergency in March 2020, few could imagine it would last long. 

Now almost two years and four waves later, the pandemic feels more like a roller-coaster ride we can’t escape. Or, maybe it’s like the Eagles sang: we can check out any time we want, but we can never leave

However you cut it, life in pandemic times has been less than ideal for most of us. And staying on top of coronavirus restrictions gets more complicated with every rule change and mask mandate.

Recent restrictions closed casinos from Jan. 5 through Jan. 31.

Further relief for bettors should be coming soon though, as expanded online sports betting and online casino options will be coming to Ontario on April 4.

To make it easier for you, PlayOntario is tracking the changes to provincial pandemic rules and regulations, here, as they happen.

Find the latest COVID protocols below, and check back when you need reassurance. 

 

March 21, 2022

Masks no longer required in Ontario gambling halls

As of today, face masks are no longer required to be worn in Ontario’s gambling halls as the province has lifted its mandate on mask use in indoor public spaces.

Health officials and provincial politicians have said public health indicators have improved enough to remove mask rules.

Masks will also no longer be required in schools, retail settings and most other indoor public spaces in Ontario. Though, select settings such as public transit, health-care facilities, long-term care homes and congregate care settings will keep mask mandates until the end of April, when the province plans to put an end to all remaining public health rules.

March 9, 2022

Mask mandates to be lifted March 21

Ontario’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Kieran Moore, announced today that, as of March 21, masks will no longer be required in schools, restaurants and bars, gyms and movie theatres in the province. No direct word, yet, if that includes casinos, but we will update as soon as possible.

The government said people can continue to wear a mask if they desire.

The lifting of the mask mandate will come exactly a week after mandatory vaccination policies for employees at schools, child-care settings, hospitals and long-term care will also come to an end.

March 1, 2022

Most COVD-19 restrictions lifted as of today

Ontario has lifted nearly all of its COVID-19 restrictions beginning today.

That includes removing remaining capacity limits for sports arenas, concert halls and night clubs.

Mask mandates remain, but businesses such as gyms, cinemas and restaurants no longer need to check patrons’ vaccination status.

There’s also no longer a limit on the size of social gatherings.

Ontario is now the closest its been to pre-pandemic conditions since the spring of 2020.

Feb. 15, 2022

Gateway’s Rob Mitchell: “Great news” casinos can fully reopen on Thursday

Ontario’s 12 Gateway casino locations will fully reopen to the public on Thursday (Feb. 17). That’s the word from Rob Mitchell, the company’s director of communications and public affairs.

“We absolutely plan to open to full capacity on the 17th at all our Ontario sites,” Mitchell told PlayOntario.

“This is great news for our guests and employees and I think it is safe to say welcome news across the hospitality sector. We are also excited to be able to open our Entertainment Centre at Casino Rama in April and expand the list of new attractions on offer at the venue there.”

Gateway’s flagship Ontario location, Casino Rama Resort in Orillia, will officially re-open its Entertainment Centre after a two-year hiatus on April 29, Mitchell said. Country star Jake Owen will be the first concert.

Apart from Casino Rama, Gateway operates the Cascades Casino in Chatham, the Playtime Casino in Hanover, the Starlight Casino in Point Edward. Gateway-branded casinos are located in Sault Ste Marie, Sudbury, Thunder Bay, Clinton, London, Woodstock, Innisfil and Sarnia.

Feb. 15, 2022

Niagara casinos expected to open to full capacity on Thursday

Both Casino Niagara and Fallsview Casino and Resort are expected to open to full capacity on Thursday (Feb. 17) just after the stroke of midnight.

That was the word from insauga.com that reported Tuesday that the casinos are expected to return to 100% capacity as soon as the latest COVID-19 capacity limits are lifted at midnight on Feb. 17. Currently, casinos can only operate at 50% capacity.

While neither casino has given official word, yet, to its employees, they have previously followed the province’s health restrictions to the letter.

The province announced Monday (Feb. 14) that it was moving to the next step of its COVID-19 reopening at midnight on Thursday, four days ahead of schedule. It will also end proof of vaccination requirements on March 1.

Feb. 15, 2022

No concerts at Caesars Windsor in March

Caesars Windsor has cancelled or postponed all three concerts it had scheduled for March. The casino said ongoing COVID-19 restrictions are the reason. Currently, the province limits concert venues to 50% capacity.

Cancelled is the Loverboy and Honeymoon Suite show scheduled for March 3 and the March 4 show starring Guns N’ Roses guitarist Slash. The March 11 show featuring Guess Who bandmates Burton Cummings and Randy Bachman has been postponed until November. A specific date has not, yet, been set.

Tickets purchased for cancelled concerts will be automatically refunded via Ticketmaster.

Refunds for the postponed March 11 show must be requested through the original point of purchase.

Caesars Windsor still has a number of shows scheduled for May and June on its schedule. Check out the full lineup here.

Feb. 1, 2022

Gateway reports “strong customer demand” on first day Ontario casinos reopened

Gateway casino customers were out in strong numbers as the company’s 12 casinos reopened Monday (Jan. 31). That’s the word from Rob Mitchell, the director of communications and public affairs for Gateway Casinos & Entertainment Ltd.

Mitchell told PlayOntario that all of Gateway’s sites in the province, “reopened to strong customer demand with many locations opening at 12:01 a.m. on Jan. 31.”

All of the province’s gaming halls had been closed from Jan. 5 to Jan. 31 due to increased COVID-19 health restrictions now being eased.

Gateway’s flagship Ontario location, Casino Rama Resort in Orillia, has now fully reopened, including the hotel and spa, Mitchell said.

“The Centre Bar and all our restaurants at Rama have also reopened and we are looking forward to resuming live entertainment at the Entertainment Centre as soon as we are able.

“Despite capacity restrictions of 50% in place for the next 21 days, almost all our food and beverage service returned to regular operation with our Match Restaurants opening their dining rooms again after only being able to provide takeout service since the last shutdown on Jan. 5. The government now permits food and beverage service on the gaming floor again which is a significant positive change in improving the guest experience and a return to normal letting patrons enjoy a drink while they play.”

Gateway operates 12 of Ontario’s 28 casinos. Apart from Casino Rama, the company has the Cascades Casino in Chatham, the Playtime Casino in Hanover, the Starlight Casino in Point Edward. Gateway-branded casinos are located in Sault Ste Marie, Sudbury, Thunder Bay, Clinton, London, Woodstock, Innisfil and Sarnia.

Jan. 31, 2022

Ontario casinos reopen today at 50% capacity

Ontario’s casinos, bingo halls and other land-based gaming establishments reopen today (Monday, Jan. 31) at 50% capacity. Customers will be required to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination and wear a mask.

Most Ontario casinos reopened at 10 a.m. on Monday. They had been closed since Jan. 5 due to increased COVID-19 health restrictions designed to curb the spread of the Omicron variant. It was the fourth closure of Ontario’s casinos and gaming establishments since the pandemic began two years ago.

Duncan Hannay, the president and CEO of the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp. said in a release, “OLG is happy the province’s popular gaming facilities will once again reopen to provide world class entertainment, dining options, and other amenities to adult Ontarians in a safe and secure environment,” said. “In partnership with our service providers, OLG is proud to contribute to the re-opening of the economy with health and safety as a top priority.”

Beyond customers needing to wear a mask and show proof of vaccination for entry, casinos and other gaming facilities are also subject to enhanced safety measures such as:

  • Requiring all employees and guests to wear a face covering in indoor settings
  • Offering enhanced cleaning and sanitization
  • Protective plexiglass barriers remain between employees and guests.

These requirements are aligned with the guidance of provincial and federal public health authorities.

Jan. 28, 2022

Two curlers test positive for COVID-19 before leaving for Canadian women’s championship

Two unnamed participants at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts in Thunder Bay, ON have tested positive for COVID-19.

Curling Canada reported today that the two individuals, from different teams, tested positive on their pre-departure PCR tests. They did not travel with their teams. No other participants are deemed to have had close contact with the individuals who tested positive.

The two participants will be permitted to participate once they pass protocol, including repeated testing and evaluation by Curling Canada’s medical staff.

All participants had to produce negative PCR tests before departing and upon arrival in Thunder Bay. All arrival PCR tests conducted on Thursday have come back negative.

The Canadian women’s curling championships, which runs through Feb. 6 at the Fort Williams Gardens, begins tonight at 7 p.m. (EST).

Curling Canada has also announced that four of its other national championship events have been cancelled due to COVID-19 health restrictions and concerns. Three of the cancelled events were to be held in Sudbury, ON. The events are:

  • Canadian Wheelchair Curling Championship – originally set for Feb. 21-26 in Moose Jaw, SK
  • U SPORTS Canadian University Championships – March 15-19 in Sudbury
  • Canadian Colleges Athletic Association Championships – March 15-19 in Sudbury
  • Canadian Mixed Doubles Championship – March 22-27 in Sudbury

However, both cities will play host those events 12 months later in 2023, Curling Canada confirmed.

Jan. 27, 2022

Popcorn to return to Ontario movie theatres on Jan. 31

Popcorn lovers rejoice! Movie theatres will be allowed to sell popcorn and other snacks when they reopen across Ontario on Monday (Jan. 31).

CTV News Toronto reported Thursday that the provincial government has reversed an earlier decision banning food from being sold at Ontario theatres.

Movie theatres, along with casinos, gyms, restaurants, bars, museums and more, are being allowed to reopen to 50% capacity on Monday. The number of COVID-19 positives attributed to the Omicron variant is slowly beginning to trend downward.

Jan. 26, 2022

Ontario records 1,000,000th COVID-19 positive, more than 11,000 deaths

This week the province of Ontario announced two grim milestones since the pandemic began nearly two years ago — 1 million lab-confirmed COVID-19 cases and more than 11,000 deaths related to the disease.

As of Wednesday morning (Jan. 26), the province was reporting 2,786 people in hospital, but not the intensive care unit with COVID-19. The number of people in ICU with COVID-19 currently sits at 458.

Jan. 24, 2022

OLG pleased about casinos reopening, says revenue critical to Ontario’s economy

Tony Bitonti, the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp.’s director of external communications, told PlayOntario the reopening of Ontario’s casinos is critical to the province’s economy. Thus, the Jan. 31 reopening of all of the province’s gaming halls is welcome news.

“In terms of impact, almost half of our revenue comes from casino operations and the loss of that much of our revenue also impacts how much we can provide to the province because 100 per cent of OLG proceeds (lottery, casinos and digital)  are reinvested into provincial priorities to improve the quality of life for all Ontarians,” Bitonti said. “Casinos create jobs locally, bring capital investment, help local charities and also result in payments to host municipalities.”

The Ontario government announced on Jan. 20 that the province’s gaming halls can reopen at 50% capacity on Jan. 31. But, customers must wear a mask and show proof of COVID-19 vaccination.

Ontario Lottery and Gaming president and CEO Duncan Hannay said in a statement that the OLG is “happy” about the Jan. 20 announcement that casinos would reopen at the end of the month.

“In partnership with our service providers, OLG is proud to contribute to the re-opening of the economy with health and safety as a top priority,” Hannay said in a release.

“OLG is happy the province’s popular gaming facilities will once again reopen to provide world class entertainment, dining options, and other amenities to adult Ontarians in a safe and secure environment.”

The current closure is the fourth since the pandemic began.

Specifically, Ontario gaming halls were also closed:

  • March through most of September of 2020.
  • From December 2020 to February 2021.
  • Between April 2021 and July.

Jan. 21, 2022

No spectators for major Ontario sporting events until at least Feb. 21

Despite the Jan. 31 reopening of casinos, gyms, restaurants and more to 50% capacity, most of Ontario’s major sporting events will continue without spectators until at least Feb. 21.

Thursday’s decision to slowly ease COVID-19 restrictions also allowed sporting events and concerts to reopen Jan. 31 to 50% venue capacity or up to 500 people, whichever is less.

But that likely means no fans for the foreseeable future and here’s why: The Jan. 31 limit of 500 people at larger venues such as the Scotiabank Arena — home of the Toronto Maple Leafs and Toronto Raptors — is a smaller number than what has been in place since Dec. 31.

NHL, NBA and most OHL teams opted for no spectators when the province capped the number of spectators at 50% or 1,000 people on Dec. 31.

A cap of 500 fans won’t change that decision for most. However, the Ottawa Senators are considering opening to 500 fans from Jan. 31 to Feb. 21, when the next phase of reopening is expected to be reached. At that time, major venues are expected to be limited to 50% of capacity with no capped lower number.

Capacity limits are due to be eliminated entirely on March 14.

Jan. 20, 2022

Casinos, bingo halls, other gaming establishments to reopen Jan. 31

The Ontario government announced today that casinos, bingo halls and other land-based gaming establishments can reopen at 50% capacity on Jan. 31. Customers will be required to show a COVID-19 passport and wear a mask.

Also allowed to reopen on Jan. 31 under the same rules are:

  • Restaurants, bars and other food establishments without dancing.
  • Retailers, including shopping malls.
  • Gyms and non-spectator areas of sports facilities.
  • Movie theatres.
  • Meeting and event spaces.
  • Museums, galleries, aquariums, zoos and similar attractions.
  • Religious services, rites and ceremonies.

All of the above were temporarily closed on Jan. 5 due to the spread of the Omicron variant. The restrictions were originally scheduled to be eased on Jan. 26.

Spectator sports and concerts will also reopen to 50% capacity or up to 500 people, whichever is less.

Jan. 19, 2022

Health officials say better news coming

Ontario health officials said an announcement on easing current health restrictions will likely come later this week.

Health Minister Christine Elliott said at a press conference today that the province is, “starting to see glimmers of hope.” She was joined at the press conference by Dr. Kieran Moore, Ontario’s chief medical officer of health. Ontario Health CEO Matthew Anderson also spoke.

There are 4,132 people in hospital with COVID-19 as of today. But, new admissions are starting to slow. Also stabilizing is the average length of stay in both hospitals and intensive care units. Fewer days are required to treat patients with the Omicron variant compared to those that had the Delta variant.

Ontario’s ICUs now have 589 COVID-19 patients. It is the highest number since June 5, 2021.

But, Moore said public health measures introduced in early January — including the temporary closure of the province’s 28 casinos — appear to be slowing transmission of the virus in the community.

Jan. 18, 2022

Ontario restrictions to be eased soon?

Premier Doug Ford said Ontarians can expect some “positive news” this week that pandemic restrictions may soon be eased.

Further, the province’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Kieran Moore said he is more optimistic that Ontario is headed in the positive direction on COVID-19. He told Newstalk 580 CFRA he was starting to “have much more hope” based on the numbers he’s watching.

Currently, 2,984 people are in Ontario hospitals with COVID-19, but are not in the ICU. An additional  408 people that tested positive for COVID-19 are in the ICU.

There’s no word, yet, whether the easing of restrictions will allow Ontario casinos to reopen or many sports to resume.

Jan. 14, 2022

Ontario casinos may stay closed past Jan. 26

Ontario’s 28 casinos may stay closed longer than planned.

Dr. Kieran Moore, Ontario’s chief medical officer of health, said he “can’t guarantee” current COVID-19 restrictions will ease on Jan. 26 as originally announced.

The province’s casinos were temporarily shuttered on Jan. 5 as part of a range of new restrictions that also included closing gyms and allowing restaurants to serve takeout only. The restrictions were originally scheduled to end on Jan. 26. Moore said in a Jan. 13 press conference that high numbers of people hospitalized with the Omicron variant of COVID-19 means re-opening plans may have to be put on hold.

Currently, 3,630 people are in Ontario hospitals with COVID-19, 481 people that tested positive for COVID-19 are in the ICU.

“As soon as we have clarity, we want to inform the business community, so I can’t guarantee the 26th,” Moore said. “We’ll be watching the same data as those experts at the science table and we collaborate with them to be able to inform public health measures.”

Ontario schools will return to in-person learning on Monday (Jan. 17), but that appears to be one of the few exemptions to the current COVID-19 restrictions, so far.

Jan. 13, 2022

Ontario Winter Games canceled, may be held in 2023

The Omicron variant of COVID-19 has claimed another Ontario sporting event. The Ontario Winter Games have been canceled. The games were scheduled to take place Feb. 24 to March 6 in Renfrew County, west of Ottawa.

“The County of Renfrew was prepared to host the 2022 Ontario Winter Games during a pandemic, but we could not do it while safeguarding the health of the athletes, their families, our volunteers or the community at large,” said county warden Debbie Robinson in a statement.

Jan. 12, 2022

Petition to categorize Ontario university and college athletes as “elite” nears 7,000 signatures

The Canadian Student-Athlete Association’s petition to have the Ontario government re-categorize college and university sports as “elite” was closing in on 7,000 signatures by mid-day on Jan. 12.

Ontario’s university and college athletes had their season halted on Jan. 5 (see below) due to increased COVID-19 restrictions designed to slow the spread of the Omicron variant. Seven amateur sports groups considered “elite” were given an exemption from the indoor activities ban. But athletes competing for post-secondary institutions are not on the “elite” list.

Ontario university winter sports were scheduled to begin on Jan. 24. But the ban on indoor training until Jan. 27, at the earliest, will push games back at least several weeks.

Jan. 6, 2022

All Ontario casinos closing temporarily

Due to the spread of the Omicron variant of COVID-19, Ontario government decided to close all 28 gambling halls in Canada’s largest province.

On Jan 5, the government closed schools, banned indoor dining and cut capacity limits. The province has also closed museums, movie theatres, gyms and other indoor entertainment venues.

The closure affecting indoor casinos, bingo halls and other gaming establishments across the province is expected to last until Jan. 26.

“Based on the current trends, our public health experts tell us we could see hundreds of thousands of new omicron cases every single day,” Premier Ford said in a statement issued on Monday. “With roughly one percent of cases ending up in the hospital, this surge could overwhelm our health care system.

“We cannot let this happen.”

Jan. 5, 2022

Season Halted for Ontario University And College Athletes

Ontario’s Ministry of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries announced that the province’s university and college athletes must immediately stop training programs and game schedules until further notice. The decision came as part of new COVID-19 restrictions implemented in Ontario that place a ban on all indoor sports activities until Jan. 27 at the earliest.

The exception to the ban is seven “elite” amateur groups permitted to play indoors:

  • Ontario Hockey League
  • Provincial Women’s Hockey League
  • Elite Baseball League of Ontario (U18)
  • League 1 Soccer
  • Junior A Lacrosse
  • Women’s Field Lacrosse
  • Ontario Scholastic Basketball Association.

Ontario University of Athletics said in a statement that their student athletes not being counted among elite athletes is a “disservice” to their abilities and efforts.

OUA winter sports were scheduled to begin on Jan. 24. But the ban on indoor training until Jan. 27, at the earliest, will push games back at least several weeks.

The OUA is home to 20 universities. Twenty-seven schools participate in the Ontario Colleges Athletics Association.

Jan. 4, 2022

Under-18 Curling Canada event leaves Timmins

The COVID-19 pandemic has influenced Curling Canada to look for alternate dates and a new location for the 2022 Canadian Under-18 Championships.

Timmins was to play host to the tournament Feb. 14-20.

With the current situation and restrictions preventing provinces from staging their respective Under-18 competitions, Curling Canada will attempt to reschedule the championships.

And with no other ice availability in Timmins for the remainder of the season, they’ll need to find a new host community.

Curling Canada will, however, stage the 2023 Canadian Under-18 Championships in Timmins, Feb. 6-11.

Jan. 3, 2022

Ontario casinos temporarily closing their doors

Due to new COVID-19 restrictions implemented in Ontario, land-based casinos are temporarily closing their doors on Wednesday.

The closure refers to Caesars Windsor, Casino Rama, Niagara Casinos and all casinos in the province. The closure will last until Jan. 26, canceling all events, concerts, and hotel and restaurant bookings during that time.

“The health and safety of our employees and guests remain a priority, and we look forward to welcoming you back at a time when it is safe for our community,” Caesars Windsor president, Kevin Laforet, said in a media release.

”We understand that the closure is required at this time to work toward a healthy and safe community, and we will be ready to return to operations when it is safe, viable, and allowable to do so,” said an internal memo to Casino Rama employees.

In addition, the province has closed gyms, banned indoor dining and put schools back online.

Dec. 28, 2021

NHL postpones two Toronto Maple Leafs games

Two more Toronto Maple Leafs games are being postponed, bringing the total number to eight.

A home game on Jan. 3 against the Carolina Hurricanes and an away match against the Canadiens on Jan. 6 will happen later this season.

According to the National Hockey League, the league is rescheduling upcoming games involving Canadian teams due to COVID-19 attendance restrictions.

Postponed, so far, are nine games. Montreal had to postpone four home games, including the Jan. 6 match vs. Toronto.

The Toronto Maple Leafs’ Jan. 3 home game vs. Carolina will also require a new date.

Dec. 22, 2021

NHL players will not skate in the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics

The National Hockey League and NHL Players’ Association decided players will not participate in the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics.

The decision comes after a material interruption of the NHL’s regular-season schedule due to increasing COVID-19 cases.

The league shut down all activities for its holiday break from Dec. 21-25.

With 50 games postponed through Dec. 23, NHL decides Olympic participation is no longer feasible.

Dec. 20, 2021

Ontario pro sports seasons pausing amid latest COVID-19 concerns

Postponed. That’s what’s up with tonight’s Toronto Raptors’ game against the visiting Orlando Magic.

The delay is due to Magic players and staff members being in the NBA COVID-19 protocols.

The NBA also postponed other matches. Sunday games between Denver and Brooklyn, Cleveland and Atlanta, and New Orleans and Philadelphia will be rescheduled, too. And the Tuesday game between the Wizards and Nets has also been postponed.

Toronto is delaying team activities through next Sunday.

The NHL is already shutting down games involving cross-border travel until after Christmas. The Ottawa Senators‘ home game and Toronto Maple Leafs‘ road game were postponed Sunday.

The league postponed more than 20 games involving US teams playing Canadian-based teams from Monday to Thursday.

Dec. 17, 2021

Casino Rama postpones concerts due to COVID-19 concerns

Casino Rama Resort is postponing concerts that are scheduled for January and February 2022.

The decision was made due to concerns surrounding the emerging omicron variant of the COVID-19 and the province’s newly imposed capacity restrictions.

Postponed concerts include:

  • Russell Peters (Jan 7/8)
  • Air Supply (Jan 14/15)
  • Gordon Lightfoot (Jan 21)
  • Kim Mitchell and Honeymoon Suite (Jan 22)
  • The Price is Right Live! (Feb 11/12/13)
  • Darci Lynne (Feb 19)
  • The Irish Rovers (Feb 25)

Those who purchased tickets to these shows can ask for refunds at the point of purchase. Alternatively, customers can keep their tickets and use them when concerts are rescheduled.

Caesars Windsor cancels December shows at Colosseum concert venue

Caesars Windsor announced Friday that December shows at its Colosseum concert venue have been canceled.

The move was because of provincial restrictions of 50% capacity limits for indoor venues with a capacity of more than 1,000 people.

Canceled shows include:

  • The Tenors, Dec. 19
  • The S’Aints Sleighing Hunger benefit show, Dec. 23

The closings came about a week after the hall reopened with an REO Speedwagon show on Dec. 11.

If tickets were purchased at the Caesars Windsor box office, customers can bring ID, proof of purchase and tickets for a refund. If purchased through Ticketmaster, refunds will be processed through the method of payment. For help, call 1-855-985-4357.

Dec. 16, 2021

Ontario reintroduces capacity limits of 50%

For the first time in seven months, the province of Ontario reports the highest daily tally of more than 2,400 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday.

Starting Saturday, Ontario is reintroducing capacity limits of 50% for venues greater than 1,000 people. The change applies to all entertainment venues, meeting and event spaces, and sports venues and festivals. The rollback also includes casinos, bingo halls and other gaming establishments.

Ontario’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Kieran Moore, said boosters would be available to anyone over 18 as of Jan. 4. 

“I need you to book your booster as soon as you’re able to because we know without a shadow of a doubt that these vaccines work and boosters are the best way to prevent the worst,” said Premier Doug Ford.

“Everyone has a role to play in the next phase of our provincial COVID response. It’s all hands on deck, and it starts with booster shots.”

Dec. 14, 2021

Canada Will Deny Entry To Unvaccinated NBA Players In 2022

Starting Jan.15, 2022, NBA players must be fully vaccinated to enter Canada.

The Canadian government had previously granted a national interest exemption for professional athletes who remained fully unvaccinated.

But that’s no longer the case.

“Any player who is not fully vaccinated and does not have a medical contraindication to receiving a COVID-19 vaccine will be unable to enter Canada to play games in Toronto,” said the NBA, via a league memo.

Oct. 9, 2021

Ontario lifts capacity limits for movie theatres and concerts

In response to ongoing stability in the province’s hospitals, Ontario has lifted capacity limits for concert venues, theatres and cinemas, as of Oct. 8.

The provincial government announced capacity limits would lift to allow 100% capacity in establishments where proof of vaccination is required.

In consultation with the chief medical officer of health, the Ontario government released A Plan to Safely Reopen Ontario and Manage COVID-19 for the Long-Term.

Oct. 7, 2021

Casinos adjust to new vaccination policy

With the province’s new vaccination policy from Sept. 22, Ontarians must provide proof of the double poke to access certain businesses. The policy includes all Ontario casinos.

“Our highest concern what keeps me up at night is ensuring we never lose our hard-fought progress,” said Premier Doug Ford.

“We can’t afford to shut down again or experience a sudden surge in cases like we’re seeing in other provinces across the country.

“Let me be very clear: This is a temporary and exceptional measure. We will only use these certificates for as long as they’re needed and not one day longer.”

Sept. 22, 2021

Casinos in Ontario return to 100% capacity

Ontario casinos and gaming establishments no longer have to deal with capacity restrictions. The most populous province returns to 100% capacity. 

As of Sept. 22, businesses such as restaurants, gyms, and casinos are fully open but must ask customers to show proof of vaccination.    

The toughest stretch for Ontario casinos was March through July 2021, when they had to close. The dog days are over, and Ontario casinos are now fully open. 

Sept. 9, 2021

Casinos maintain 50% capacity

With COVID-19 cases declining since May, Ontario decided to reopen brick-and-mortar casinos. But with some restrictions.

Casino Niagara also reopened, this time with limited hours (10 a.m. – 2 a.m.) and reduced gaming equipment and tables. 

Capacities remain capped at 50%, while the casino management must ensure guests stay two meters apart.

Visitors must wear a protective face mask, except when dining.

*with reports from Robyn McNeil
Photo by Shutterstock/Kiev.Victor
Dave Briggs Avatar
Written by
Dave Briggs

Before joining PlayOntario, Dave spent more than 25 years as a writer and editor, mainly covering horse racing in Canada. He holds a master's degree in journalism from Western University and was a 2018 inductee into the Communicators' Corner of the U.S. Harness Racing Hall of Fame. Beyond a deep passion for family and music, Dave has a mostly-tragic, life-long love of Detroit sports teams. He lives in Port Stanley, Ontario with his wife and their beloved Vizsla named California.

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