MLSE to require proof of vaccination or negative COVID test for fans, workers

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TORONTO, ON - MAY 31: Part of 550 Healthcare workers who took in play between the Montreal Canadiens and the Toronto Maple Leafs in Game Seven of the First Round of the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Scotiabank Arena on May 31, 2021 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The Canadiens defeated the Maple Leafs 3-1 to win series 4 games to 3. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)
MLSE, the entity that owns the Raptors and Leafs, won't be mandating COVID-19 vaccines for employees or fans upon entry to its venues. (Getty)

Toronto sports fans now have one more reason to get the shot.

Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment, owner of the Toronto Maple Leafs and Toronto Raptors, has announced it will require proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test of all attendees ahead of entry in locations owned by the company.

The measures will start in mid-September and include guests, employees and event staff.

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"As an organization that hosts more than four million fans per year, at hundreds of events in multiple venues, MLSE is proud to serve as a central gathering place in Toronto and recognizes its responsibility to provide attendees with a safe and secure environment," the company's official statement reads.

The announcement pertains to virtually every major sports team in Toronto.

Venues owned by MLSE include Scotiabank Arena — home of the Raptors and Maple Leafs — OVO Athletic Centre and Maple Leaf Square.

As the owner of MLS's Toronto FC and the CFL's Toronto Argos, MLSE also operates BMO Field, as well as the Coca-Cola Coliseum, home of the AHL's Toronto Marlies. Those two venues are owned by the City of Toronto.

"We believe these health and safety protocols are the key to allowing our communities and businesses to reopen safely, to permit full capacity events, and to protect against further lockdowns," reads the statement.

According to the City of Toronto, 74.3% of the city's eligible population has been fully vaccinated, while 81.7% have had at least the first shot.

The NBA is set to return on Oct. 19, while the NHL kicks off its regular season on Oct. 13. It is still unclear whether the Raptors will open their season in Toronto, while the Maple Leafs seem set to host the Montreal Canadiens at Scotiabank Arena in their season opener.

MLSE has yet to provide details on specific dates for when the new health and safety protocols will take place.

The announcement comes a week after True North Sports and Entertainment, owner of the Winnipeg Jets, announced it would require proof of vaccination ahead of entry at its venues.

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