After being able to host games at full capacity for less than two months, the Vancouver Canucks will once again be scaling back.
With COVID-19 cases growing exponentially each day in BC due to the Omicron variant, the BC government is implementing new capacity limits for sporting events, beginning Sunday night at 11:59 pm.
Sportsnet 650’s Randip Janda was first to report that capacity will be reduced to 50% for any venue that holds over 1,000 people. Rogers Arena has a capacity of 18,870 for hockey games.
I'm told venues in BC with a 1,000 person capacity or more will be limited to 50% capacity as of Monday December 20th until the end of January. Meaning #Canucks games will be at half capacity after this weekend.
— Randip Janda (@RandipJanda) December 17, 2021
The new health order was announced by BC Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry this afternoon.
“Venues with a capacity of 1,000 or more people will be limited to 50% capacity, whether that’s a concert, hockey game, theatre,” said Dr. Henry. “That’s to ensure that we have additional space for people. These are events that have been managed very well and we’re not seeing a lot of transmission (up to this point).
“But with this highly transmissible variant, we need to have more space, more ventilation, and we need to ensure that we are enforcing the mask wearing requirements that are in place for these events. And ensuring that we’re scanning QR codes for these events.”
Scanning QR codes will be a change for the Canucks, as they were previously only required to visually check QR codes and photo identification.
The order won’t take effect until Monday, which allows the Canucks to play their next two home games, Saturday against the Toronto Maple Leafs and Sunday against the Arizona Coyotes, at full capacity.
That’ll be the case if those games aren’t postponed. The Leafs cancelled their practice today in Vancouver after two of their players were added to the NHL’s COVID list. The Calgary Flames, Colorado Avalanche, and Florida Panthers have all seen their games postponed until after Christmas.
A total of 73 NHL players have been added to the COVID-19 protocol in the last week, including four players on the Canucks. The Flames alone have 32 members of their organization (coaches, players, staff) in COVID protocol.
The move to limit capacity to 50% follows what the Ontario government implemented earlier this week, while the Montreal Canadiens played a game without any fans in attendance on Thursday.
Many ticket holders will receive refunds for tickets, with season-ticket members likely receiving priority to attend games.
Every Canucks game at Rogers Arena last season was played without fans in attendance, while preseason capacity in September and October was limited to 50%. Full capacity was allowed for regular season games since October 26, as the vaccine passport allowed the Canucks to require everyone in attendance be fully vaccinated.
“With the rising COVID-19 cases in our community, we continue to work closely with the local health authorities as we support each other to keep the community safe as the pandemic continues to evolve,” said Canucks president of business operations Michael Doyle.
“Our ticketing team is currently working through the logistics of this change and will communicate with our ticket holders directly as soon as possible. In the meantime, fans should hold onto their tickets.
“The health and safety of our fans, employees, players and community has always been a top priority and we will continue to enforce safety protocols for our Warriors game tonight and Canucks home games this weekend, including strict mask wearing protocols. We also encourage all fans to get vaccinated and to follow provincial health orders in the coming days and weeks to help us all manage through this latest COVID-19 challenge.”