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Quebec health authorities reject Canadiens’ request to increase fan capacity

The Montreal Canadiens requested to increase fan capacity at the Bell Centre for Game 3 of their series against the Tampa Bay Lightning from 3,500 fans to what amounted to a half-full.

Since reopening on January 3, 2021, the Canadiens had yet to have any cases of COVID-19 transmitted inside the arena and they were willing to require fans to show proof of vaccination before entering the arena, while masks and social distancing would have remained mandatory.

The Tampa Lightning were approved to allow 18,600 fans into Amalie Arena for Game 2, up from 16,300 for Game 1.

Earlier in the day, Dr. Richard Masse, a strategic medical adviser at the Health Department, said public health is open to the idea of having outdoor screenings of upcoming Canadiens games, which had been suggested by Montreal Mayor Valerie Plante.

Masse told The Globe and Mail that the government wanted to be careful about making exceptions to public health orders because doing so would inevitably lead to other groups demanding similar treatment.

“This is why when we come up with measures, we want to be sure that these measures can be applied elsewhere,” Masse said.

France Margaret Belanger, the hockey team’s executive vice-president and chief commercial officer, said the team believes that 10,500 people – half of the arena’s capacity – can be accommodated safely.

Quebec’s public health authorities have rejected the Montreal Canadiens‘ request to increase capacity at the Bell Centre to 10,500 fans for the Stanley Cup Final.