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Ontario Expands Indoor Capacity for Meeting and Event Facilities

TORONTO — The Ontario government is easing restrictions for facilities that rent out professional meeting and event spaces. Beginning Aug. 21, 2020, facilities can have up to 50 guests for each indoor meeting room or event space within the facility. The facility would have to adhere to a plan approved by the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health (OCMOH).

“As the province gradually and safely re-opens, our government is continuing to promote a safe approach to re-opening businesses to boost Ontario’s economic and social recovery. Allowing for multiple meetings or events will allow convention centres, hotels and other professional meeting facilities to welcome back more visitors and employees,” says Lisa MacLeod, Minister of Heritage, Sport, Tourism & Culture Industries.

The current indoor-gathering limit will now apply on a per-meeting-room or -event-space basis at professional meeting and event facilities, including convention centres, hotels, motels, resorts, banquet halls and conference centres. Outdoor meeting and event facilities remain subject to the 100-person gathering limit for the entire outdoor area. Capacity limits exclude employees or event personnel.

“We applaud the provincial government in permitting the hospitality industry to allow meetings and events on a per-room or dedicated-space basis. This will support many operations through this challenging pandemic period,” says Tony Elenis, ORHMA president and CEO.

To operate and expand indoor capacity safely during Stage Three of Ontario’s Framework for Re-opening Our Province, convention centres, hoteliers and other associations have helped inform the development of a guidance document, which is the plan approved by the OCMOH. These measures ensure public safety based on public-health requirements, operational best practices and industry guidelines prepared by the sector.

“The health and safety of our customers, visitors and staff remains our highest priority, and we’re ready to welcome them back slowly, surely and safely,” says Lorenz Hassenstein, president and CEO of the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. “As the largest convention centre in Canada, our facility generates well over half a billion dollars in economic impact annually to the city and province. We’re excited to move onward; to welcome guests into our safe facility this fall and continue with our strong calendar of events in 2021.”

In addition to the increased limits, new regulatory amendments have come into force requiring contact information for only one person in a party entering indoor or outdoor dining areas starting today, with exceptions. This will reduce the administrative burden on businesses such as restaurants, bars and other food-and-beverage establishments, as well as tour and guide services, while continuing to support case and contact tracing.

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