TORONTO – Upcoming concerts starring Billie Eilish and Elton John hang in the balance as Ontario’s plan to ease COVID-19 restrictions provides a stricter set of rules for live performances than other entertainment events.

Advocates for the province’s live music and theater industries say they are being treated unfairly as new rules come into effect on January 31, keeping their venues at 50 per cent capacity until at least mid-March.

Meanwhile, other entertainment venues, including cinemas, casinos and restaurants, have been told to expect the ability to host a full house by February 21st.

Erin Benjamin, head of the Canadian Live Music Association, says this is the latest setback for live venues and their owners who are once again confused by policies that make it safe to eat masklessly in a restaurant, but unsafe to be masked for a concert to come together.

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She worries that the ever-changing rules could suppress a series of upcoming concerts, from big-ticket performances led by international superstars to smaller club events by American artists, all of them who may decide it’s not worth the cost to enter Canada for a half to play. -full arena.

Eilish will play at Toronto’s Scotiabank Arena on February 16, while John has two dates on March 12 and 13. All shows are on the calendar before full capacity is allowed on March 14th.

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None of the artists have postponed or canceled their performances since Tuesday morning.

Benjamin says the province’s ever-changing rules apparently have no clear science behind it and she fears it sends the message that “Ontario is closed to business.”

“The idea of ​​doing business in Ontario is so uncertain that people just aren’t interested in constantly trying to navigate through the rules,” she says.

“We hear things like outright cancellations and talks (on future tour dates) will be interrupted in some cases until 2023.”

Some big names have already moved away from upcoming Canadian tour dates of the first half of the year, including Dua Lipa who is expected to play in Montreal and Toronto in February. Those dates have been rescheduled to July 25 and 27.

© 2022 The Canadian Press

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