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Edmonton sports fans anxiously await COVID-19 rules to attend games

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With CFL and NHL teams across the country revealing their COVID-19 safety protocols for fans, neither the Edmonton Oilers nor the Oil Kings have shared their stances. Sarah Ryan spoke to fans about their thoughts on the controversial issue – Aug 23, 2021

Editor’s note: This story has been corrected to reflect the Elks have had 12 players test positive for COVID-19 this season as well as the fact that Thursday’s game against the Toronto Argonauts has not been cancelled as of publishing, it has been postponed.
Hockey season is just around the corner, but at this point, sports fans in Edmonton still have no direction from either the Oilers or Oil Kings as to what policies might be implemented as COVID-19 numbers rise rapidly across the province.

Read more: True North Sports and Entertainment venues mandating vaccines for Winnipeg event guests, staff

Earlier this month, the Winnipeg Jets announced fans would have to wear masks and be fully vaccinated to attend home games.

Major sports teams in Toronto followed suit, including the Maple Leafs, Blue Jays, Raptors, Toronto FC and the Marlies. If people aren’t vaccinated there, they can show proof of a negative COVID-19 test within 48 hours of the game’s start time.

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On Monday, the Calgary Flames, Stampeders, Roughnecks and Hitmen added the Saddledome and McMahon Stadium to the list of places people will need to show proof of vaccination to access.

Read more: Calgary Flames, Stampeders, Hitmen fans & staff must be fully vaccinated to attend games

Dr. Lorian Hardcastle, a health policy expert from the University of Calgary, thinks this is part of a larger trend.

“I think there will be a snowballing effect now that we’ve seen some very large companies announce that this is the way they’re going,” she explained.

“Those who operate these venues don’t want the bad press associated with or linked to a super-spreader event.”

So far though, the Edmonton Elks have not made any such requirements for fans.

The team has already had 12 players test positive for COVID-19 this season and just had to postpone a game because of the outbreak.

READ MORE: Edmonton Elks game postponed after players test positive for COVID-19

The Oil Kings start pre-season games at home on Sept. 11. The Oilers start on Sept. 28 hosting the Seattle Kraken.

But neither team has put forward their stance on fans and masks or vaccinations yet.

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In a statement, Oil Kings spokesperson Andrew Peard wrote: “[Oilers Entertainment Group] continues to work closely with [Alberta Health Services] to diligently monitor the virus and what precautions should be taken to ensure fan safety.”

Read more: Western Hockey League adopts mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy

The Oilers didn’t return Global News’ email inquiry Monday, but last week, OEG’s senior vice-president of communications Tim Shipton wrote: “We continue to engage with key stakeholders including the NHL, WHL, live entertainment promoters, our staff, fans and Alberta Health on our venue fan policy. Details will be announced at an appropriate time before the start of the season.”

But if the teams move forward with vaccine mandates, the window is closing fast for the unvaccinated to be able to attend.

Read more: Toronto Blue Jays to require proof of vaccination or negative COVID-19 test to enter Rogers Centre

If someone didn’t have a shot and decided to get one to be able to watch the Oil Kings on Sept. 11, they wouldn’t be able to get their second shot in time — never mind wait the additional two weeks required for full effectiveness.

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As for the Oilers, fans would have to get their first shot Tuesday and their second shot exactly 21 days later to be fully vaccinated in time.

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