Brian Pallister: Winnipeg Jets to host ‘some fans’ for Game 1 of series against Montreal Canadiens

Photo courtesy: Winnipeg Jets

Winnipeggers are about to attend a live professional sporting event for the first time since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I think there will be some fans — a small number, a few — in the next Jets game,” said Manitoba premier Brian Pallister in a press conference on Tuesday. “I know they’ll be safe, and I know they’ll be careful, and I know they’ll follow public health rules. And I think we should take that as a sign of some small amount of optimism that we can start to get our lives back here in Manitoba.”

A report from Mike McIntyre on Monday indicated that the Winnipeg Jets had submitted two proposals to provincial health authorities. One included fully vaccinated front-line workers and the family members of players, while the second included only the latter. It remains unclear which proposal has been or will be approved by the game.

The Montreal Canadiens became the first professional sports team in Canada since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic to host fans when 2,500 people attended Game 6 on Saturday. The Toronto Maple Leafs followed suit for Game 7 when 550 vaccinated front-line workers were permitted to attend Scotiabank Arena on Monday.

Game 1 of the North Division series between the Winnipeg Jets and Montreal Canadiens starts on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. ET.

Manitoba was hit hard by the third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, reaching a single-day high of 602 new cases on May 19. The province remains under lockdown with most public schools closed and no social gatherings permitted on private or public property.

65.7 percent of Manitoban adults have received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, including almost 10 percent who are fully vaccinated.

John Hodge is a Canadian football reporter based in Winnipeg.