Buffalo Bills to require fans at games to be vaccinated against COVID-19

Buffalo Bills ownership has announced a new policy that will require all fans to be vaccinated to attend games at Highmark Stadium and KeyBank Center, home of the Buffalo Sabres, this season.

Pegula Sports & Entertainment, along with Erie County, announced Tuesday afternoon that beginning with the Sept. 26 game against the Washington Football Team, all fans ages 12 and up must have received at least one COVID-19 vaccine shot in order to attend. That rule will expand to requiring all attendees over the age requirement to be fully vaccinated starting with the October 31 game vs. the Miami Dolphins.

Masks will no longer be required for those above the age of 12 once the new policy is in place.

"If you do not want to get vaccinated ... that does not give you a right to go to a football game or a hockey game," Erie County executive Mark Poloncarz said. "If you want to go to the games, get vaccinated."

Poloncarz cited that this past week the county saw the highest number of positive COVID-19 cases since April.

While evidence of fans failing to comply with the indoor mask policy at the stadium during the Week 1 game against Pittsburgh circulated, that is not the direct reason why the new policy is being implemented. Poloncarz said that it did, however, make it "necessary," and that this decision would hopefully prevent the county from having to limit attendance numbers, as they did last year.

There will be a number of ways for fans to prove they are vaccinated, but photos or copies of vaccine cards will not be accepted. The physical vaccination card, New York state Excelsior Pass, clear digital vaccine cards and government digital vaccine proof from outside New York state will all be accepted.

The Bills become the fourth NFL team to ask fans to be fully vaccinated if they want to attend, joining three other teams: New Orleans, Seattle and Las Vegas. The Saints and Seahawks also recognize a negative test for admittance, while the Raiders do not.

Of those four teams, only the Seahawks and Bills have outdoor stadiums. Players will continue to be subject to the NFL policy.