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Home News No plans to bar unvaccinated fans from Art Hauser Centre once WHL season gets underway

No plans to bar unvaccinated fans from Art Hauser Centre once WHL season gets underway

No plans to bar unvaccinated fans from Art Hauser Centre once WHL season gets underway
Daily Herald file photo by Bradley Ruszkowski.

Prince Albert Raider players, coaches, support staff, scouts, and even the bus driver will have to vaccinated before the start of the 2021-22 WHL season, but that mandate won’t extend to fans.

Raiders business manager Michael Scissons said they’re following guidelines and recommendations made by the provincial government when it comes to vaccinations. Unless the province steps in, the Raiders won’t prevent unvaccinated fans from attending.

“That vaccine mandate isn’t in place (for fans), so we’re not at that point,” Scissons said during an interview on Tuesday. “We will do as much as possible to ensure that the building—when you enter it as a fan—is going to be as safe an environment as possible.”

That means extended cleaning protocols will still be in place. There will also be a more diligent effort to make hand sanitizer easily accessible.

Scissons said the club with work with the City of Prince Albert and Art Hauser Centre staff to make sure the building get properly taken care of.

“I feel confident in the fact that we’ll welcome fans back into a safe environment,” he said.

A few sports clubs, like the NHL’s Winnipeg Jets, have made vaccines mandatory for attendance. Others, like the Toronto Maples Leafs, will require either proof of vaccination, or a negative COVID-19 test result from fans before they enter.

The WHL emailed a statement to the Daily Herald on Tuesday saying the league does not plan to make vaccines mandatory for fans at this time.

“The WHL is not applying this policy to fans and our member Clubs will be following local public health guidelines in their respective jurisdictions,” the statement reads. “The WHL recognizes proof of vaccination may be required as a condition of entry to WHL games in some jurisdictions, and WHL Clubs will consult with venue operators where necessary to ensure a safe environment for fans this season.”

The WHL’s vaccine mandate is similar to ones announced by the OHL and QMJHL in July. The mandate affects anyone who is directly associated with the hockey team, including billet families.

Scissons said he hasn’t heard any problems from billet families about the vaccine requirements.

“We probably have more billets than we have players right now,” he said. “We’re in a great position with billets. We have a lot, and haven’t had an issue with the mandate.”

Scissons added that it wasn’t a surprise to see the WHL introduce some kind of mandatory vaccine policy, especially after the July announcements from Canada’s other two major junior hockey leagues.

He said the Raiders have no problem following the mandate.

“It’s a rule that the WHL has put in that we’ll support and endorse,” Scissons said. “(We’ll) make sure that we follow all the recommendations that they believe we need to follow in order to make sure our staff, our players and everybody associated with the game is as safe as possible.”