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The Ottawa Senators finally got the green light to have a full house at the Canadian Tire Center.

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In this case, it is better late than never.

You don’t usually get good news with an announcement late Friday afternoon, but Dr. Kieran Moore, Ontario’s chief medical officer, confirmed that senators, Toronto Maple Leafs, and the rest of the province’s teams they will be able to do it. play at full capacity.

The Senators and Leafs were the only NHL teams not told they could sell all of their seats. The CFL’s Ottawa Redblacks, Toroto Argos and Hamilton Tiger-Cats will also feature larger crowds.

Two weeks ago, they were allowed to move 50% of their capacity. That resulted in about 9,300 people. Senators will now be able to sell the 18,652 seats in their building.

Senators’ owner Eugene Melnyk and Anthony LeBlanc, the club’s president of business operations, have been in talks with the province about capacity limits for more than 10 months. It started with getting the go-ahead for the team to play in an empty building last season and has continued from there.

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“We are delighted with today’s announcement,” said Melnyk. “On behalf of the organization, I want to thank the many government officials with whom we have interacted extensively, including Prime Minister Doug Ford, for reaching this point and assuring our fans that we will continue to be cautious and take all preventative measures to guarantee the collective safety of the people in our building ”.

This is also good news for the 17 OHL teams based in the province, including the 67 from Ottawa, plus the AHL Belleville Senators and the Toronto Marlies.

Speaking to The Morning Rush with Bill Carroll on Friday at CFRA, LeBlanc was warning people to make sure to get to the track early.

“We couldn’t be more excited. We have had fans in the building in the last few weeks, which has been great, because it has given us the opportunity to solve some problems, “said LeBlanc. “We have been able to work on cleaning up procedures so that people enter the building early.

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“There are definitely some changes when it comes to getting into the building early compared to the last time we had so many fans in the building in March 2020.”

LeBlanc said there is a lot of logistics involved in having to verify people’s vaccine passports. There will be more outdoor events, including live bands and kid-friendly activities, so fans feel like they’re coming to an event.

The NHL has also instituted a strict bag size policy that fans should be aware of this season.

“There are a number of things, and some are good, and some are just changes that happened because of the pandemic,” LeBlanc said. “There is a two-step process to enter the building. You must show proof of vaccination and your identification. Once you do that, you start to enter the building.

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“We had the opportunity to test things in the preseason. We want people to be enthusiastic from the moment they arrive until the moment they leave the building. “

This also counts for concerts and all events on the track. Health and safety measures include new ventilation and a cashless environment. The delay in the announcement hasn’t made planning easier for either team.

“I am grateful for the continued efforts of Ontarians to get vaccinated and to follow public health advice and measures, as we have continued to cautiously and gradually reopen the province. Our public health and healthcare indicators continue to trend in the right direction and we can remove additional restrictions, ”said Moore.

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“However, now is not the time to lower our guard. We must all continue to do our part and strictly follow the measures that are still in force and ensure that as many people as we can get fully vaccinated, especially as we enter the Christmas season. “

After playing on empty courts last season, the Senators players were happy to look out onto the ice to see people in their seats. The advertising banners are long gone and it will be good to see people in those places.

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Still, the government wants people to continue getting vaccinated, not only so they can attend these events, but it also wants people to do so so the world can go back to normal one day.

“As we continue to see more Ontarians roll up their sleeves on more than 22 million doses administered, our government is cautiously lifting capacity limits in select settings where we know that proof of vaccination requirements provide an additional layer of protection. to the people of Ontario, “said the Minister of Health. Christine Elliott said in a statement.

“The fight against COVID-19 is not over and we all need to remain vigilant by following the public health measures that we know work and staying safe, and receiving your first or second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine if you haven’t already. done done. “

[email protected]

Twitter: @sungarrioch

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