BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Buffalo Bills and Sabres fans will need proof of vaccination to attend games this fall, local health officials announced Tuesday.
A slide Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz showed during his news conference Tuesday put it in simple terms: “No Vaccine = No Entry.” Poloncarz said a negative COVID-19 test will not be enough.
“Our plan is that unless you are vaccinated, you will not have entry to the stadium,” Poloncarz said. “It is easy, it is safe. We can then guarantee 70,000-plus people at the stadium.”
Poloncarz said he has talked to the Bills about this plan, which he hopes will be in place by late summer when the NFL’s preseason begins.
The Bills are Sabres are believed to be among the first teams in the country — if not the very first — to have their local government announce a full vaccination policy will be in effect to attend games.
“I want to see that stadium full, I know the Bills want to see that stadium full. We want to return fans back to the stadium,” Poloncarz said. “That’s why the county supports returning all fans to the stadium and (hockey) arena for this fall … We know there’s a way to do it. We know there’s a way to ensure it. That’s that all fans and staff are fully vaccinated.”
Poloncarz said he hopes to utilize New York’s Excelsior Pass app to facilitate entry. Erie County owns the football and hockey arenas, but not the baseball stadium that could host the Toronto Blue Jays this summer.
“As we did last year, we will continue to cooperate and comply with all New York State and local government regulations regarding our sporting events,” the Buffalo Bills said in a statement.
Poloncarz acknowledged fans have a personal choice in whether or not to get vaccinated. He said attending sporting events is a personal choice, too.
“There’s no God-given right to attend a football game,” Poloncarz said.
Poloncarz said the policy applies to fans and stadium workers, but players and other team staff aren’t under the county’s jurisdiction.
It is not immediately clear how this rule will apply to children, for whom the vaccines are not yet approved.