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Maple Leafs, Senators to Return to 50 Percent Capacity on Thursday

The Ontario government announced that sports venues can return to a 50 percent capacity limit on Feb. 17.
Empty building

No more empty buildings in Ontario. Well, soon at least.

On Monday morning, the Ontario government held a press conference to unveil sweeping changes to the restrictions put in place in the province to combat the spread of COVID-19, taking one step closer to lifting restrictions on sports venues entirely by announcing capacity limits have been increased to 50 percent beginning on Feb. 17. 

This announcement serves as a welcome surprise, coming roughly one week before many expected it to, and obviously has a massive impact on Ontario's two NHL teams, the Toronto Maple Leafs and Ottawa Senators, who had been forced to play before practically no fans for all of 2022 in a move that commissioner Gary Bettman called "financially devastating" to the respective franchises prior to the All-Star Game. 

While buildings are not yet permitted to be packed full just yet, even a return to 50 percent capacity will do wonders to the teams' bottom lines moving forward, as well as allowing players to return to a somewhat normal playing environment. 

\With the new restrictions set to begin on Feb. 17, the Maple Leafs will be able to welcome roughly 10,000 fans back into Scotiabank Arena that same night as they take on the St. Louis Blues at home. The Senators, on the other hand, will have to wait until Saturday, Feb. 19 to play in front of a home crowd once again when they host the Boston Bruins. 

Capacity restrictions at sports venues are expected to be lifted entirely by Mar. 14, although that date is subject to change depending on the events in the weeks ahead. 

In the meantime, though, fans can rejoice as they begin to inch closer and closer to a sense of normalcy. 

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