What to expect at large venues as New Brunswick removes COVID-19 restrictions

Click to play video: 'N.B. sport, performing art venues gearing up for ‘green’' N.B. sport, performing art venues gearing up for ‘green’
WATCH: As New Brunswick gets set to remove all COVID-19 restrictions at midnight Friday, we checked in with some sport and performing art facilities to see what people can expect moving forward. As Callum Smith has found, the results vary by venue -- but most seem to be waiting to see what happens next – Jul 28, 2021

Policies for patrons looking to attend some large venues in New Brunswick remain somewhat unclear, even as the province gets set to lift all COVID-19 measures at 11:59 p.m. Friday.

Several businesses are planning cautiously as they’ve seen provincial plans change several times throughout the pandemic.

Still, large crowds are to be anticipated without any form of gathering limits starting Saturday.

The province has said it will be up to individual businesses if they keep measures in place.

“Businesses, communities, and organizations may choose to maintain a policy for patrons and participants who enter their premises to continue to wear a mask,” a Government of New Brunswick document titled ‘Living with COVID-19’ states.

“Recognizing that some individuals are unable to wear a mask, the operator or organizer should respectfully offer alternative ways to access the services.”

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Read more: Vaccination status, masks: What can businesses ask of patrons after COVID-19 restrictions lift?

“A flexible approach to face masking and physical distancing provides employees, patrons, and participants with the opportunity to protect themselves and others,” it says.

Sports, performing arts venues face decisions

The Quebec Major Junior Hockey League’s Saint John Sea Dogs are preparing for their pre-season to launch Aug. 19 at UNB’s Aitken Centre in Fredericton.

With provincial restrictions lifting soon, tickets for every seat in the building are on sale, meaning it could be sold-out.

“People who are buying tickets for those facilities, and presumably as we get into our own Reds’ seasons, should at the very least anticipate having a neighbour next to you in your seat,” says Andy Campbell, the communications manager UNB Reds.

“That could be someone that you’re going to the game with or somebody that you don’t know, hasn’t been in your bubble, so to speak, throughout this pandemic.”

However, mask wearing will be mandatory at all times inside, unless you’re eating or drinking.

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Campbell says that policy is to remain for the “first part” of the fall athletic season, at least.

However, staff will discourage gatherings on the concourse and encourage people to keep moving.

The Sea Dogs are selling tickets for all seats at TD Station for the regular season as well.

The venue says it will continue following public health guidance.

Read more: COVID-19: 1 new case in N.B., vaccination rate bumped to 64.7 per cent

“If they dictate wearing a mask in a large facility like this, obviously we’ll comply and we’ll implement their request,” says Michael Caddell, the general manager of TD Station. “But what I’m reading right now is we will probably be going mask-free, but we’ll know more as everything transpires over the next month.”

In Moncton, the Avenir Centre is working with its corporate managing company, ASM Global, and local public health officials.

Spokesperson Bonnie Porter says “once we have more clarity on the situation we would be happy to comment further.”

As for performing arts venues, the Fredericton Playhouse tells Global News it intends to open to full capacity when shows return in September.

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But other aspects, including possible mask policies, have yet to be finalized.

And a spokesperson for the Capitol Theatre in Moncton says they’re waiting until restrictions are indeed lifted before announcing plans for their fall shows, but that they hope to welcome guests back at full capacity as long as there are no provincial restrictions in place.

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