Want to go to a Winnipeg Jets game this coming season? You're going to have to be fully vaccinated.
True North Sports & Entertainment announced Wednesday that all fans, event staff and employees must show proof they are double-dosed in order to gain entry to their venues, which they expect to be able to sell to 100 per cent occupancy as a result.
That includes all hockey games involving the Jets and Manitoba Moose, along with concerts and other indoor performances at both the newly renamed downtown rink (formerly Bell MTS Place) and Burton Cummings Theatre. The only exception will be for children under the age of 12, who can't yet be vaccinated but will be allowed to attend with adults who are.
"We have recently surveyed a selection of our customers and the majority of respondents told us they would only feel comfortable attending games if we required proof of full vaccination. Combining our survey findings along with other supporting data, research, and venue best practices, at this time, we will require proof of full vaccination for people to attend games and events at Canada Life Centre," TNSE said in a statement on its website.
It's not clear if the definition of employees extends to the players themselves, who have their own health and safety protocols in place that have been negotiated between the NHL and the players' union. Vaccines are recommended, but not required. The mandate falls in line with other sports venues in the city, including IG Field for the Blue Bombers and Valour FC, and Shaw Park for the Goldeyes, which require all patrons to have received both jabs.
Masks will also be mandatory, despite recent changes to public health orders in which they are now just "recommended" by officials. This is based on survey findings in which 70 per cent of respondents "felt it was important that staff and guests be required to wear masks at games or events."
"Accordingly, until further notice, we will require guests to wear masks while attending games or events at Canada Life Centre. You will be permitted to temporarily remove masks for consumption of food and beverages," said TNSE.
The Jets play their first of three exhibition home games on Sept. 26 against Ottawa, and the first of 41 regular-season home games on Oct. 21 against Anaheim. The Moose open up their home schedule on Oct. 22 against Grand Rapids. The first concert since the pandemic began is set for Oct. 2 when Eric Church performs.
Based on those dates, someone who has yet to receive a single shot and wants to be in the seats for one of those upcoming events will have to act fast. It's a 42-day process to become fully vaccinated (first dose, minimum 28 day wait, second dose, 14 day wait for clearance). That means getting a shot by Sunday at the latest to be ready for the first preseason game, for example.
TNSE says there will be more than 100 hand-sanitizing stations set up inside Canada Life Centre, contactless screening upon entry and cashless transactions available at all points of purchase. Employees must also undergo additional health and safety training along with daily health screening measures.
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