Saskatoon

Saskatchewan Roughriders prepare for first game under new COVID-19 rules

Tens of thousands of Saskatchewan Roughriders fans are expected to file into Regina's Mosaic Stadium for Friday night's game. For the first time, they'll be required to show proof of double vaccination or a recent negative COVID test to get in.

Proof of vaccination or recent negative test and photo ID will be required to enter

Friday evening, the Saskatchewan Roughriders will host their first game at Mosaic Stadium under its new rules requiring proof of COVID-19 vaccine or a recent negative test. (Matthew Howard/CBC News)

Tens of thousands of Saskatchewan Roughriders fans are expected to file into Regina's Mosaic Stadium for Friday night's game. For the first time, they'll be required to show proof of double vaccination or a recent negative COVID test to get in.

"As a club, we are truly just trying to create safest environment we possibly can for Rider fans to come into Mosaic stadium," said Miriam Johnson, director of marketing and fan engagement for the Riders.

Johnson said not everyone is on board with the changes, but officials are doing what they think is best for fans' health and safety. A safe environment is also good for the players and the league, she said.

"We're just trying to make decisions that keep our fans as healthy as possible and continue the season as long as we can," she said.

The changes come as COVID-19 case numbers and hospitalizations soar across the province. The Roughriders and Edmonton Elks were the last two CFL teams to announce a proof of vaccine system, doing so on Aug. 30.

That was nearly three weeks earlier than the provincewide proof of vaccine plan announced Thursday by the Saskatchewan government. That takes effect Oct. 1.

During his Thursday news conference, Premier Scott Moe said he hopes proof of vaccine requirements will increase Saskatchewan's vaccination rate, which is one of the lowest in Canada. He said people who refuse vaccines and get a test instead will have to pay for the test themselves.

CBC News asked Moe Thursday how he'd prevent unvaccinated people from getting a test at an understaffed, publicly-funded Saskatchewan Health Authority facility, especially before a big event like a Roughrider game. Moe did not list any fines or other enforcement measures. He said people should not take up a space at a public testing centre to attend entertainment events. If they do, "they'll have to deal with St. Peter at some point later in time."

He said the province is working on methods to distinguish between those who have legitimate medical testing needs and those who don't.

"The fact of the matter is we are relying, like we have throughout this pandemic, to some degree, on the compliance and honesty of Saskatchewan people," Moe said. "It has bode well for us to date." 

With files from Sam Maciag

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