Fan-attended events back at SaskTel Centre with COVID-19 measures

Fan-attended events are back at SaskTel Centre with public health measures in place due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. File / Global News

SaskTel Centre is welcoming music and sports fans back into its space with public health measures put in place due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

The Saskatoon venue’s executive director, Scott Ford, said he was impressed with how well screening went for the recent Eric Church concert on Oct. 23.

“The province of Saskatchewan has a public health order in effect that requires proof of (double) vaccination or a negative test to attend events supported by photo ID, and there is a mandatory-mask policy in place,” Ford said.

“We are going to enforce those to up to a T. We’re going to make sure the events are safe. I have had many comments from many people, even at Eric Church with over 13,000 fans in the building.

“It’s been over 18 months that we’ve had a large touring show in the building like Eric Church and this concert … basically, it got everybody back to work.

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Ford said the key for live events going forward is proof of vaccination or negative testing.

“If you do an excellent job screening all of those people, certainly, ‘does it eliminate the risk completely?’ Maybe there is a small percentage of risk that’s still out there. Very small,” Ford said.

“You might have the odd person standing up, sipping their drinks and singing this song in that, but I think what I found with this audience is all the customers that attended this (Church) concert were well aware of the policies.

“They were well aware of the public health order. They have done their due responsibility and making sure they’re getting vaccinated so they can actually get back to doing live events and get back to doing things. Across the country, everywhere in Canada right now, live events are happening.”

As of Wednesday afternoon, no COVID-19 outbreak had been declared at SaskTel Centre. Additionally, Ford said no one was ticketed for health code violations at last weekend’s event.

“There was a lot of customers that were denied entry because they didn’t have the proof of vaccination supported by photo ID or a combination of both. And we did provide a lot of refunds because of that,” Ford said.

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“We also had a number of evictions. I think it was 10 to 12 evictions took place with people that just would not comply with the mandatory mask policy.

“But definitely (with) the proof of vaccination, we’re getting better at it … the staff are doing an excellent job in managing that and then admitting the customers into the building. And I think that was a bit of a learning curve for us, and we’re just going to continue to get better at those pieces of admission for those events.”

SaskTel Centre is scheduled to host Professional Bull Riders (PBR) Canada’s elite Canadian cup series’ on Friday and Saturday with proof of full vaccination, or a negative test result required within 72 hours of entry.

The 2021 Tim Hortons Curling Trials are also scheduled from Nov. 20 to 28 in Saskatoon to decide Canada’s four-player teams for the 2022 Winter Olympic Games in Beijing. All seats at SaskTel Centre are available for the trials.

“And with the (Western Hockey League’s Saskatoon) Blades … we’ve had four games so far, they’ve gone off fantastically and we expect that the PBR will be like that as well as when we have the Canadian curling trials here in November,” Ford said.

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On Wednesday, American country music singer/songwriter Dierks Bentley announced new arena dates behind the winter run of his “Beers on Me” concert tour which included SaskTel Centre on Jan. 14, 2022.

According to the provincial government’s dashboard,  Saskatchewan had 271 COVID-19 patients in hospital and the death toll grew by five to 832 on Wednesday. The province’s seven-day average of new daily infections is down to 235.

Saskatchewan’s active infections also decreased, now sitting at 2,440. The Saskatoon zone leads the province with 606 cases.

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