Vaccine passports, distancing, and how to safely return to fandom
The sight of yellow and red leaves coating the sidewalks means two things in B.C.: winter is just around the corner, and sports are back.
While the Vancouver Canucks begin their preparations for the new NHL season across the Georgia Straight, the Western Hockey League’s Victoria Royals and the British Columbia Hockey League’s Victoria Grizzlies are all set to drop the puck. Meanwhile, UVic is preparing for the return of the varsity basketball teams to CARSA.
For the first time in 18 months, the sound of real-life fans will accompany the puck drops and tip-offs. As part of Step 3 of BC’s Restart Plan, the Provincial Health Officer Bonnie Henry is allowing arenas to fill to a maximum of 50 per cent capacity.
But what can fans expect when they return? What will the vaccine passport process look like? And what additional safety measures will be in place to keep them safe?
As of Sept. 13, B.C. residents are required to be at least partially vaccinated and to show their provincial vaccine card before entering certain venues, such as concerts and sporting events. Some of these events also require a vaccine passport.
This means that before entering a sporting arena you must show your vaccine card either digitally or physically before you will be allowed access. As of Sept. 27, you can no longer use your proof of vaccination card, which you receive after getting your vaccine, in place of your vaccine passport.
Vaccine passports can be accessed on the provincial government’s website. You will need to provide your date of birth, personal health number, and the date of either your first or second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Upon arriving at the arena, you will be asked to show your vaccine card and a piece of government ID to the gate attendant at the same time as you present your ticket. The attendant will scan the QR code attached to your card which will then provide them with your name and your vaccination status. Those without a vaccine passport or valid government ID will be refused entry.
Under Step 3 guidelines, stadiums are allowed to fill 50 per cent of their official capacity. All fans are required to wear masks inside the arena and keep to their assigned seats when not on the concourse.
Fans can interact with each other on the concourse and will be permitted to unmask when eating in their assigned seats. However, each sports organization will have different measures in place depending on their arena and what they see as necessary.
The Victoria Royals have not released their specific plans as of yet and did not respond to a media request from the Martlet. They have said they will release their safety plan in the coming weeks.
The Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre has a regular capacity of 7 400 and under the provincial health guidelines will be able to admit a maximum of 3 700 fans per game.
The Victoria Grizzlies have already hosted fans for their pre-season games, adhering to basic public health guidelines. Their Q Centre will be able to host a maximum of 1 390 fans under the restrictions.
UVic has not released their plans either but have a bit more time as their varsity basketball teams don’t start their seasons until late October.
In an emailed statement to the Martlet, UVic Vikes Director, Varsity Performance Sport Nick Clarke said that the university will follow provincial health guidelines on vaccination and distancing.
“We are complying with all current Public Health Orders and always advocate that if you are feeling symptomatic, please stay home and respect the space of others while inside our facilities,” he said.