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Utah Jazz require COVID-19 vaccine or negative test for fans, new rule sparks heated reaction

(The Jazz Note outside Vivint Smart Home Arena. Photo: Paul Nelson, September 24, 2021)

SALT LAKE CITY – There was a huge announcement from the Utah Jazz and Vivint Arena on Friday. Officials will require people over the age of 12 to provide proof of vaccination against COVID-19, or, a negative test before attending any event at the arena.  This new rule sparked strong reactions on both side of the vaccination debate.

The new rule goes into effect Sept. 30 with the Frozen Fury NHL preseason game between the LA Kings and the Las Vegas Golden Knights. Team officials say they’re not certain when it will be lifted.  They issued a statement saying the new policy could be modified at any time.

“Arena officials will continue to monitor the evolving circumstances surrounding COVID-19, working with event organizers and local, state and federal health agencies to determine health and safety measures,” the statement reads, in part.

According to team officials, they consider someone fully vaccinated if they can prove that 14 days have passed since they received their second dose of any FDA authorized COVID-19 vaccine.  Kids under the age of 12 are allowed to attend the games and other events, but they’re required to wear a face mask at all times.  Officials say even vaccinated guests are encouraged to wear masks, but it’s not required.

Critics despise the new rule

Judging by the comments on social media, this move has polarized many Jazz fans either for or against the vaccination rule.  One critic tells KSL he doesn’t believe it’s fair that everyone should prove their vaccination history since some people no longer have the required documentation.  He also says, if vaccination passport apps are approved, not everyone has the money to afford the smartphones needed to use them.

He says, “I think it’s unfair type of [thing] to say, ‘Ok, you guys have to have physical paperwork with you, or you ain’t getting in.’”

Critics on social media bashed the team’s decision. Some people said this rule won’t sway them to get the vaccine, at all.  Plus, they predict game attendance will drop significantly.

One woman posted, “I hope this discrimination causes all companies that do this absurd decision to lose a lot of money.  You can call it what you want but it is discrimination.”

Another posted, “I hope nobody shows up!”

Supporters explain why they love it

At the same time, many people are applauding the new requirement.  One fan posted, “Yay!  When I heard the OKC Thunder was doing this, I knew others would follow.  I already ordered my clear backpack to take to the games!  Yay for safety!”

Another wrote, “The smart thing to do.  The Raiders require vaccination and have an on-site vaccination option and COVID tests.  It has been popular.  Hundreds have been vaccinated for the games.”

One supporter of the new rule tells KSL he doesn’t believe the policy goes against any privacy laws. And he believes fans will be much better protected from the virus.

“We have to show proof of vaccines for school and everything else.  It’s not violating anything that’s protected normally under HIPPA,” he said.

One couple visiting from New York says they’ve been required to prove their vaccination status for several months. They say they’ve gotten used to it.

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