Buffalo Bills to require proof of vaccination from fans

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The Buffalo Bills joined the Las Vegas Raiders on Tuesday as the only NFL teams requiring proof of vaccination against COVID-19 for all fans over the age of 12.

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The rules will be the same for Buffalo Sabers games at the Keybank Center when the NHL season begins next month.

The change comes after reports from fans about loose mask enforcement during the Bills’ opening game at Highmark Stadium on September 12.

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Unvaccinated fans were allowed to participate but were required to wear masks at all times under guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Many at the game said they saw little face coverings in packed stadiums, including restrooms and other indoor areas where even vaccinated fans were expected to wear masks.

Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said the policy change was a joint decision between the county and Pegula Sports & Entertainment, which owns the Bills and Sabers.

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“We believe that the only way to ensure a real safe environment is to actually vaccinate people,” Poloncarz said.

There would be no option to offer a negative virus test instead of proof of vaccination, as allowed by the New Orleans Saints and Seattle Seahawks, the only other two teams to announce vaccination requirements.

During the regular season last year, the coronavirus pandemic prompted Buffalo to play home games in an empty stadium. The rules were relaxed in January to allow about 6,700 fans – about 10% of the stadium’s capacity – to attend the Bills’ two home playoff games.

Under the new policy, vaccinated fans will no longer be required to wear masks at home games, but masks remain a requirement for children under the age of 12, who are too young to be vaccinated.

Fans must receive at least one dose in time for the September 26 game against Washington and be fully vaccinated by the October 31 game against Miami.

Buffalo is also among a growing list of cities to announce vaccine mandates for hockey fans. Expansion The Seattle Kraken announced last week that they would require fans age 12 and older to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination.

“As a general matter, we strongly support the health and safety regulations that promote and encourage vaccination,” NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said in an email.

The Seattle Times reported that the Winnipeg Jets, Calgary Flames, Vancouver Canucks, Toronto Maple Leafs and San Jose Sharks have also announced mandates.

Credit: www.independent.co.uk / Buffalo Bills

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