If you’re over the age of 12 and you would like to play or watch hockey in Lethbridge, you will need to be vaccinated or show proof of a negative COVID-19 test beginning next week.
The City of Lethbridge announced Friday that starting Sept. 20, 2021, all city arenas — and the Genevieve E. Yates Memorial Centre — will be implementing the province’s restriction exemption program, including:
- ATB Centre
- Civic Ice Centre
- Henderson Arena
- Labor Club Ice Centre
- Nicholas Sheran Arena
- Logan Boulet Arena
Under provincial health guidelines, anyone 12 and up who enters those facilities must show proof of at least partial vaccination from Sept. 20 to Oct. 25, at which time proof of full vaccination (two doses) will be required. Visitors can also show proof of a privately paid, negative PCR or rapid test, taken within 72 hours, or documentation of a formal medical exemption.
The city’s ENMAX Centre will also be implementing the restrictions exemption program, but with the WHL regular season just two weeks away, it will include a slightly more accelerated timeline.
Proof of a single dose will be accepted for the Lethbridge Hurricanes’ pre-season game on Sept. 24, but come the team’s WHL home opener on Oct. 1, fans will need to be fully vaccinated — or show proof of a negative test within 48 hours — to enter the building.
“I know for a lot of fans, what we’re doing is taking away any concern,” said ENMAX Centre general manager Kim Gallucci.
“We really want people to walk in, feel comfortable, and we don’t anticipate any lowering of ticket sales — we think it will be a real positive.”
The decision at the ENMAX Centre means the Hurricanes will be able to welcome full-capacity crowds for the first time since the 2019-2020 WHL season was cancelled back in the spring of 2020.
General manager Peter Anholt said after a COVID-friendly shortened season played in empty buildings, his club can’t wait to get back in front of fans.
The Hurricanes announced that they would be implementing the province’s restriction exemption program on Thursday, alongside the Medicine Hat Tigers and Red Deer Rebels. Anholt said it was important for the clubs to band together, after months of discussions on safety protocols within the WHL.
“We have had a sense that everybody has been waiting for some sort of restrictions coming down, so there’s been almost a relief in a sense,” Anholt said.
The general manager said the club’s season ticket base has remained strong throughout the pandemic, and while he can understand that some unvaccinated fans might be disappointed, the option to provide a negative test is available to them.
“I think our fans are excited as we are to get back in the building and watch Hurricanes hockey and support our organization,” Anholt said.
“There’s always going to be some fallout, and we understand that, and we’re trying to take care of that part of the population — and part of the fanbase — as best we can.”
Those who attend games or other events at the ENMAX Centre will now be required to enter through walkthrough metal detectors, and smoking areas outside the arena have been permanently removed. But Gallucci said the experience — including concession service — will be very close to before the pandemic.
“Once you’re in the facility, it will be business as usual, other than you’re wearing a mask, but you can take them off to eat or drink at any time,” he said.
The ENMAX Centre will also be implementing new self-service ticket scanners to limit touch points, directional signage and enhanced cleaning protocols.