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Erie County, Buffalo Bills will require vaccination for home game attendance

In a move made to combat the recent uptick in COVID-19 cases locally and around the United States, Erie County and Pegula Sports & Entertainment have announced that everyone 12 and older will need at least one shot of the coronavirus vaccine in order to be able to attend Buffalo Bills games at Highmark Stadium. There will be no medical or religious exemptions.

Fans will need at least one shot of the COVID-19 vaccine to attend games from now until the end of October. Starting on October 31, fans over 12 will need to be fully vaccinated in order to enter the stadium. Fans under the age of 12 who are ineligible to receive the vaccine must wear a mask at all times in the stadium through the end of October, but beginning on October 31 they can proceed unmasked.

Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz noted that showing a fake or forged vaccine card is a felony in New York State. Actual cards (not photocopies, not pictures of your card), the Excelsior Pass, and other states’ digital options for confirming vaccination will be accepted.

The Bills join the Seattle Seahawks, Las Vegas Raiders, and New Orleans Saints as teams who have vaccine mandates. At the Raiders game, hundreds of fans received their first dose of the vaccine while waiting in line to enter the game on Monday night. Poloncarz said there wouldn’t be a system in place at Bills games because they didn’t want “inebriated” fans “demanding” a vaccine while possibly not able to give full, clear consent.

The move comes after the County’s mask mandate for the indoor spaces at Highmark Stadium went largely ignored during the Week 1 contest. Poloncarz says this was the plan all along (he said that in April) and not a reaction to Sunday, but admitted he said it made the mandate “clearly needed.” Players’ family members were posting pictures of themselves unmasked in suites while many news organizations filmed patrons in the concourses and coming out of the bathroom without masks. Eight vendors were cited for not wearing masks during the course of the game.

Poloncarz was quick to note that players are not going to be required to be vaccinated, as they are subject to the NFL’s more rigorous policies.

For season ticket holders, it’s a tough pill to swallow if they choose to give back their tickets. If they give up their season tickets and ask for a refund, they will lose their seats and seniority. Those refund requests need to be made by this Friday.