550 fully inoculated healthcare workers allowed inside to watch Leafs Game 7 in Toronto
Published Monday, May 31, 2021 9:25AM EDT
Last Updated Monday, May 31, 2021 5:10PM EDT
The Ford government allowed 550 fully inoculated health-care workers to attend the Toronto Maple Leafs Game 7 against Montreal at Scotiabank Arena tonight; just 21 hours after one of its ministers rejected the proposal outright.
“Following discussions with the Chief Medical Officer of Health, Toronto Public Health and hospital partners, I am happy to announce that they have signed off on allowing 550 fully vaccinated frontline health-care workers, including hospital and long-term care staff, to be invited to attend Game 7 of the series between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens at Scotiabank Arena tonight,” Premier Doug Ford said in a statement issued Monday morning.
On Sunday afternoon, a spokesperson for Ford’s culture and sport minister said allowing fans would not be possible under the current guidelines, even after Quebec officials allowed 2,500 masked fans to attend Game 6 in Montreal.
Ford says Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment will allow the health-care workers into the game for free, and will provide each of them with a jersey.
It is not known which health-care and long-term care workers will be selected to attend.
An email circulated to workers at University Health Network and obtained by CP24 indicated 50 workers from that hospital network would be offered tickets to the game via an online raffle.
A provincial official said several other Toronto hospitals were doing the same.
The province says all workers allowed inside must have received their second dose of an approved COVID-19 vaccine at least two weeks ago.
“It is going to be a very different crowd but it is a crowd and we are just so thrilled to have fans back in the building,” Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment Chief Venue and Operations Officer Nick Eaves told CP24. “The fact that it is going to be our heroes, the frontline hospital workers who have been keeping our community safe is a really fitting way to get people back in the building. It has been 16 months since we have had a fan in here and these are the right fans to have back in here on day one.”
The idea to let a limited number of vaccinated healthcare workers into the arena for tonight’s game came first from an online petition, started by Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown, who said allowing some fans into the stadium would boost morale among healthcare and long-term care workers who have been stretched to the limit at times over the past six months.