Anyone planning to attend a basketball or ice hockey game at the University of Maine this season will need to show either a COVID-19 vaccination card or proof of a negative test taken within 72 hours of the event, the university formally announced Monday morning.

The rule goes into effect across the university system this Friday when the women’s ice hockey team plays the University of Connecticut at Alfond Arena.

UMaine joins college and professional teams across the country that have instituted similar rules, including Boston College and Boston University, two of the Black Bears’ rivals in Hockey East.

Face coverings remain required at indoor events at the University of Maine, regardless of vaccination status. Proof of vaccination or a negative test also will be required when the Black Bears compete at off-campus venues, including the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor, Cross Insurance Arena in Portland and the Augusta Civic Center.

This is a rule instituted across the University of Maine system for any event with more than 250 people in attendance, said Dan Demeritt, executive director of public affairs for the University of Maine system. Demeritt cited a Jay Leno concert scheduled for the Collins Center for the Arts on the UMaine campus Dec. 5. Anyone attending Leno’s show will need to present proof of vaccination or a negative test or will be turned away.

If an event is not expected to be attended by 250 people, each school in the system is allowed discretion to enforce the vaccination or negative test, Demeritt said. The rule also applies to any high school sporting event held on a UMaine campus, Demeritt said. Other Maine colleges have implemented similar policies.

Ken Ralph, UMaine’s athletic director, said the school is going into the winter season as if this rule will be in place throughout the entire ice hockey and basketball seasons, but noted things could change as conditions change. As of Monday, COVID-19 hospitalizations remained elevated throughout the state, and 600 new cases were reported by the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention Saturday.

To make entry into events as smoothly as possible, the doors will open 90 minutes before game time, rather than 60 minutes in the past. Ralph said entry into the arena will be a two-step process. First, visitors will have to show proof of vaccination or a negative test. Then they will move on to present their ticket for entry. At larger schools, staffing entrances has been a concern, but Ralph said he doesn’t envision that being a problem at UMaine.

“We ask fans to plan on getting there 15 minutes earlier than normal,” Ralph said.

Children under-12 will not be required to show proof of vaccination or a negative test.


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