Scotiabank Arena to require proof of vaccination starting in September

Maple Leafs Sports & Entertainment (MLSE) has announced that all of its stadiums, arenas, venues and restaurants will require proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test result. The new policy will kick in in mid-September.

That includes venues like Scotiabank Arena, BMO Field and Ricoh Coliseum and restaurants like Real Sports. The policy will apply to employees, event staff and guests, the company said in a statement.

MLSE owns the Toronto Raptors, Maple Leafs, Argonauts and Toronto FC. Only Toronto FC have been playing for fans since the pandemic started, while the Leafs played at the Scotiabank Arena without fans and the Raptors played in Tampa, Florida.

It’s unclear whether those teams will return to playing for fans next season.

As an organization that hosts more than four million fans per year, at hundreds of events in multiple venues, MLSE is proud to serve as a central gathering place in Toronto and recognizes its responsibility to provide attendees with a safe and secure environment,” MLSE said in a statement.

“We believe these health and safety protocols are the key to allowing our communities and businesses to reopen safely, to permit full capacity events, and to protect against further lockdowns.”

The Blue Jays, who are owned by Rogers, recently returned to the Rogers Centre and play for up to 15,000 fans. Currently, no proof of vaccination or negative COVID test is required to attend a game.

There are already a handful of concerts and comedy events announced for Scotiabank Arena as well, including Ricky Gervais in December, the Weeknd in February and Tyler, The Creator and Justin Bieber in March. If nothing changes between now and then, the new vaccination policy would apply to those shows.

Proof of vaccination has been a hot topic for concerts right now, both in the U.S. and Canada.

This past weekend, Budweiser Stage and Live Nation hosted Toronto’s biggest concerts since the pandemic with Arkells playing for 10,500 fans a night. No proof of vaccination was required.

In the United States, the concert promotion company announced they will require full vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test at their venues starting in October. There’s no word yet whether that policy will also be implemented in Canada. NOW has reached out to Live Nation for comment.

Now that a major events company is requiring vaccination or a negative COVID test, it seems likely others will soon follow suit.

So far, Ontario Premier Doug Ford has resisted calls to implement a proof-of-vaccination plan in the province, arguing the move will lead to a “split society.”

Earlier today, the province’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Kieran Moore announced that COVID-19 hospitalizations and illnesses are on the rise during the fourth wave.

He said the province will start rolling out a “suite” of mandatory vaccination policies for health-care, education, child-care, long-term care, retirement home and post-secondary employees next month. The first policy will cover health-care workers and take effect on September 7.

He also paused the economic reopening plan and warned that difficult months lie ahead.

“I’m sorry to say it’s going to be a difficult fall and winter,” Moore said.


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