New safety measures in effect at Commonwealth Stadium as Elks season starts Saturday

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After an extended pandemic off-season for the Edmonton Elks, more than 25,000 fans flooding Commonwealth Stadium for the opening home game Saturday will need to use mobile tickets and clear plastic bags at the entry gates.

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While there’s no mandatory masking or distanced seating, the first major event at Commonwealth Stadium in more than a year-and-a-half will offer fans still looking to get their first or second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine a chance to get one at a mobile vaccination clinic between 5:30 and 8:30 p.m. outside the main gate.

In an effort to speed up the entry process and reduce contact points, fans are not encouraged to bring bags like backpacks and large purses, but they can carry their belongings inside in clear plastic bags, which will be provided for the first two games. Team-branded bags will be available for $10 outside the gate.

Commonwealth Stadium director Heather Seutter said the facility has worked to create a more contactless experience, including using more debit and credit card payments. Concession stands won’t have self-serve stations or condiment tables, and surfaces will be sanitized before, during and after games.

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“The safety of everyone has been a top of mind for us for the past few months,” said Seutter, who encouraged fans to wear masks “as a reasonable protection.”

Masks will be available at the gate for free those who want them, and are still required on city buses.

Chris Presson, president and CEO of the Edmonton Elks, said the clear-bag policy and the move to mobile ticketing and cashless 50/50 tickets that can be bought online are to protect fans, staff and players.

“We don’t want to create a frustrating experience,” said Presson, who noted there will be 100 additional staff on hand to help people navigate their mobile tickets at the gate.

“It’s been 651 days since we last played a game, and when we open the season on Saturday, so to say we’re more than a bit excited would be an understatement,” said Presson, who added the team expects more tickets to be purchased on game day.

“We’d like to be completely full, but we also understand the hesitancy some may have, and we just ask you to give us a chance to prove how safe it is here,” he said.

Presson said the club is following provincial guidelines, and said there would be pandemic measures regardless of those guidelines.

Mobile tickets for Edmonton transit are free two hours before and after the game, and the number of busses are being expanded at all Park and Ride locations.

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