As Manitoba’s COVID-19 restrictions continue to loosen, those who have received two vaccine doses will be able to do a lot more this summer — including taking part in what could be the province’s first large-scale post-pandemic event: a football game.
The Winnipeg Blue Bombers are gearing up to allow fully vaccinated fans into the stadium for this season — the first since the Bombers’ historic 2019 Grey Cup victory, as last season was a write-off due to the pandemic.
That’s music to the ears of many longtime fans, who are gearing up for the Aug. 5 season-opener against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats after seeing sporting events slowly reopening in the U.S. over the past few months.
“When I watched the (Vegas Golden Knights’ NHL playoff) series, particularly at the start, I looked in the stands and thought, ‘wow, this is weird,’” Kevin Dodge, a 30-year-old Bombers season ticket holder, told 680 CJOB.
“(There were) people everywhere, they’re shoulder to shoulder, there’s no masks. I was conflicted — I was so happy to see that but I was also jealous as heck, because I wanted to see that, but also I knew we weren’t there yet in Manitoba.”
Dodge said he applied for a vaccination card on the province’s website as soon as he could after becoming fully vaccinated, and received it within about 10 days.
“It was kind of a culmination of getting that card and the CFL announcement that this season would be starting … there’s some kind of normalcy coming back — not just with football.
“I’m going to get my ’71 Winnebago out that’s painted blue and gold for this. This is an event like no other … coming out of a pandemic and going to a Blue Bombers game to celebrate a Grey Cup win?
“We’ll celebrate in the parking lot hours before the game starts.”
Bombers president Wade Miller said Wednesday that he hopes to see sell-out crowds at Bombers home games as the team heads back onto the field this summer.
As long as fans roll up their sleeves for a second dose of COVID-19 vaccine, and have official confirmation by the province — likely on a vaccination card or app — that proves they’re fully vaccinated.
“Being fully immunized, I think, is actually going to benefit our fans and make people feel safe here that everyone around them has that full immunization,” Miller told 680 CJOB.
“People are going to get very good at flipping their phones from one app to the next.
“We’re already starting the planning for that and probably will have staggered scans so you can do your app and switch it over to tickets five or six people later.”
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