Blue Bombers’ president & CEO Wade Miller ‘encouraged’ by Jets, other provinces hosting fans

Screengrab courtesy: Winnipeg Blue Bombers

Winnipeg Blue Bombers’ president & CEO Wade Miller expressed his support of the province’s decision to allow 500 fully vaccinated healthcare workers attend Wednesday’s playoff game at Bell MTS Place.

“We are encouraged by other provinces’ plans to bring fans back to their stadiums and seeing very deserving healthcare workers attend the Jets playoff games,” Miller said in a statement.

“More fans in the stands comes when more fans are vaccinated. Let’s keep tackling COVID together. Best of luck to the Jets in their series starting tonight.”

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 a game on Saturday. The Toronto Maple Leafs followed suit two days later when 550 vaccinated front-line workers were permitted to attend Scotiabank Arena.

Wednesday will mark the first time that fans are allowed to attend a professional sporting event in Manitoba since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Miller’s statement was issued one day after the province of Saskatchewan announced that all pandemic-related public health orders could be eliminated as early as the second week of July depending on vaccine uptake. This would allow the Roughriders to host capacity crowds at Mosaic Stadium during the CFL season, which the team is “thrilled” about.

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.

As of Wednesday, 66.2 percent of Manitoban adults had received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine along with 62.8 percent of residents age twelve and up.

John Hodge is a Canadian football reporter based in Winnipeg.