The Oilers Entertainment Group announced Tuesday that starting Sept. 28, fans aged 12 and older must provide proof of either being fully vaccinated against COVID-19 at least 14 days before the game or a negative COVID-19 taken within 48 hours of the game to be allowed into Rogers Place.
OEG said the COVID-19 requirements will be in place “for the foreseeable future,”
For proof of vaccination, Rogers Place will accept electronic or paper records.
A negative COVID-19 test result must be from “an approved testing provider” and taken within 48 hours of the game’s scheduled start time.
When asked for clarification, an OEG spokesperson told Global News the company will be working through “the type of testing that will be accepted under this policy” in the coming weeks.
The OEG also requires all employees, volunteers and contractors to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 with a Health Canada approved vaccine or combination of vaccines at least 14 days prior to Sept. 28.
“After careful deliberation with stakeholders including the NHL, WHL, live entertainment promoters, our fans and Alberta Health, we believe these changes are not only vital to the safety of our fans and staff, but also critical in the fight against COVID-19 as we welcome fans back to our venue and do our part for the safe reopening our city, province and country,” the OEG said in a statement Tuesday.
“We will continue to monitor the situation and provide more information on our venue COVID-19 policies in the coming weeks.
“We thank our fans and our team members for their cooperation in ensuring we are able to welcome guests back to Rogers Place.”
Long-time Oilers fan Bryan Taylor said the policy makes him feel more comfortable about attending games at Rogers Place.
“I’ve been going to Oilers games since WHA in Edmonton Gardens and I’m a 100 per cent in support of everything they’re doing. Vaccinated, being cleared 48 hours before, I’m a 100 per cent in favour.”
Taylor said he’s double vaccinated, “pro-vaccine and pro-masking” but understands not everyone feels the same.
“I’d be comfortable if they watched everybody’s attendance, watched the spreading, and testing and watching the cases that came out, and if by everybody being double vaxxed and being cleared 48 hours before — even unmasked — if the COVID cases weren’t going up, I’m fine with not being masked for everybody.
“I want to try and be reasonable, but I want everyone to be safe and I want COVID to stop spreading in our society.”
He said he would’ve hesitated attending a game in person had the Oilers not made this policy decision.
“I think you’ll see this go right across the NHL.”
And for those fans who choose not to attend games in light of the OEG’s decision?
“Part of me says: ‘Tough luck,’ but I’ll add to it: ‘Then watch them at home and cheer like heck for the Oilers.'”
As a season seat holder, Jenn McPhillamey was very disappointed not to hear about the policy directly from the Oilers.
“I’m concerned because I feel like it’s such a polarizing issue that I’m not sure I’m going to be able to sell the seats at market value for the games we don’t go to.”
McPhillamey said she would have liked to see other measures offered as options for fans — like masking.
“The decision of showing a vaccination card or the 48-hour negative COVID test… I don’t think it should just be people who are not vaccinated because I haven’t heard anywhere where it says that if you’re vaccinated it doesn’t mean you can’t spread it. So, if the point is to not spread it, then why isn’t everybody getting tested?”
She also feels the cost to get an asymptomatic COVID-19 test is going to be prohibitive for many.
“If I’m going to an Oilers game, we’re paying $175 a seat, so for me to go to a game and get a test, worse case scenario it’s $190 plus $175? So, yeah no, can I get a refund?
“I don’t really think that’s fair.”
A spokesperson for the province said Alberta is not considering mandatory vaccine mandates for the general population at this time.
However, Albertans are encouraged to sign up for their first and second doses of COVID-19 vaccine.
“Sports organizations are welcome to implement additional policies for players, staff and their fans as they see fit,” a statement from the Alberta government said.
“Sports organizations wishing to implement mandatory vaccination policies for their players, staff, or fans should seek legal guidance before implementing these policies.”