Canadian province of Ontario to further ease pandemic restrictions

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FILE PHOTO: VIA Rail passengers disembark in Ottawa

By Moira Warburton

(Reuters) - Ontario is lifting capacity limits on concert venues, theaters and spectator facilities at sports games as of Saturday at midnight, the government of Canada's most populous province said on Friday, while continuing to require proof of vaccination and masks.

Limited numbers of outbreaks in those settings have been reported, a statement from the provincial government said.

Meeting and event spaces as well as horse racing facilities will be included, although indoor meeting and event spaces must be able to maintain physical distancing between people.

The easing of restrictions comes as the latest modeling showed Canada is expected to see a decline in its COVID-19 cases in the coming weeks, a top medical official said on Friday.

Ontario began a slow lifting of lockdown measures in early summer, before the fourth wave of the virus hit. The province has vaccinated 87% of adults over age 12 with one dose, and 82% are fully vaccinated.

Ontario reported 573 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday. Canada had 4,100 new cases on Thursday, the most recent data available.

(Reporting by Moira Warburton in Vancouver; Editing by Alistair Bell)

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