ST PAUL, Minn. — The new vaccine or negative COVID-19 testing requirements in Minneapolis and St. Paul will have a broad impact on major events in the Twin Cities, with the rules for ticketed events taking effect in both cities on Jan. 26.
In Minneapolis, kids between the ages of two and four – who are not eligible for vaccines yet – will be required to present proof of negative COVID tests within 72 hours to gain entrance into events just like any other unvaccinated person. These rules remain in effect until further notice. In St. Paul, meanwhile, all kids under five years old will be exempt from the rules, which expire at the end of February but could be renewed.
For sports, this means that hockey teams like the Minnesota Wild and Minnesota Whitecaps will need to require all fans five and older to present proof of vaccine or negative tests for all games after Jan. 26.
The Whitecaps have four scheduled home games at TRIA Rink in St. Paul in February, whereas the Wild do not have a scheduled home game at the Xcel Energy Center until March 1. (However, since NHL players are no longer participating in the Winter Olympics, the league could add home games in February.) At the high school level, the iconic girls’ and boys’ state hockey tournaments are scheduled for late February and early March, respectively. The state high school wrestling tournament is also slated for March 3-5 at the Xcel Energy Center.
The Timberwolves, at the Target Center in Minneapolis, will play their first game under the new rules on Jan. 30 against the Utah Jazz.
The local rules do not apply to Gopher Athletics or the University of Minnesota, which has autonomy under a special legal status. However, a spokesperson for the university said “we are aware of today's announcements by Minneapolis and St. Paul and, as always, we are evaluating our own approaches with the latest data and input from public health experts, but we have not made changes at this time.” It should be noted that in a letter to students and staff on Wednesday, President Joan Gabel said "We are analyzing these actions and will announce our plan by January 14 for all public spaces on our campuses, particularly those that include guests who are not part of our well-vaccinated community."
Aside from sporting events, the rules will also apply broadly to movie theaters, bowling alleys and other indoor gathering spots with food and drink service. Even some wedding receptions will be subject to the vaccine or negative test requirement, granted they are held in a public space with food or drinks being served or sold.
And don’t forget concerts or other entertainment, like the Monster Jam (scheduled in February at U.S. Bank Stadium) and Disney On Ice (Target Center). Those will also be subject to vaccine or testing proof to gain entry.
Michael Nowakowski, the president of Ticket King in Minneapolis, said “my gut tells me this will have an adverse effect on the demand of event tickets in the Twin Cities.”
“If you have that extra thing, that extra hoop to jump through,” Nowakowski said, “it might turn some people off.”
However, Nowakowski also acknowledged that the vaccine rules might make others more comfortable attending events. The Guthrie Theater and First Avenue, for example, already voluntarily added vaccination/testing requirements for customers in recent months.
“Personally, I feel a lot more comfortable going to, say, a Timberwolves game, knowing everyone in the stands and the stadium are vaccinated. But that’s me personally,” Nowakowski said. “It’ll be interesting to see how it all shakes out.”