August 14, 2020, Premier Doug Ford and Minister of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries, Lisa MacLeod, announced that capacity restrictions on sport, fitness and recreation facilities will be further relaxed, effective tomorrow, August 15 at 12:01 a.m. They also announced an investment of $8 million to ensure the safe return of amateur sports.
Premier Ford and Minister MacLeod were joined by Minister of Education, Stephen Lecce.
Following this afternoon’s announcement, Minister Lecce responded to questions from media regarding the province’s back-to-school plan.
Relaxed Capacity Restrictions at Gyms and Recreation Centres, Investment in Amateur Sports
This afternoon, Premier Ford and Minister MacLeod announced that capacity restrictions would be relaxed for Ontario sport, fitness and recreation facilities. Effective tomorrow, August 15, 2020 at 12:01 a.m., these facilities will be permitted to have up to 50 patrons for each indoor sport and fitness room, while ensuring physical distancing of at least two metres.
Revised capacity limits will apply to gymnasiums, health clubs, community centres, multi-purpose facilities, arenas, exercise studios, yoga and dance studios, and other fitness facilities.
Premier Ford and Minister MacLeod also announced an investment of $8 million through the Ontario Amateur Sport Fund to help sports organizations in the province to continue to serve athletes. Funding will support these organizations in delivering programming and competitions while promoting health and wellness in the province.
Questions from Media – Response to COVID-19
Minister Lecce faced numerous questions from media on delaying the return-to-school, after confirming yesterday that he would be open to school boards staggering the first week of school to minimize crowding when schools reopen. When asked whether he would permit boards to stagger school reopening by more than a week, Minister Lecce said he is open to working with boards if they need slightly more time and that the government will be flexible and reasonable.
When asked how the government would support schools that continue to have large class sizes, even after drawing from their reserve funds, Minister Lecce reiterated that class size is not the only indicator of a safe classroom. Guidance on physical distancing (one metre within schools), mandatory masking from grades 4 through 12, and other public health measures will ensure that schools are as safe as possible in September.