Coronavirus

TD Garden to require proof of vaccination or negative COVID-19 test for all guests over age of 12

The policy takes effect Sept. 30.

A view outside of TD Garden last year. Maddie Meyer / Getty Images

Fans will need more than tickets for a Bruins or Celtics home game this fall.

TD Garden officials announced Wednesday that all guests 12 years and older will be required to provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination or a recent negative test result in order to enter the arena, beginning Sept. 30.

The announcement comes less than a month before the Bruins and Celtics begin their 2021-2022 regular seasons, and the new rules officially take effect on the date of the first Bruins preseason home game. However, a similar policy is also in place for the Laver Cup tennis tournament at TD Garden this weekend.

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The rules also apply to the TD Garden’s upcoming slate of concerts, including J. Cole, Enrique Iglesias and Ricky Martin, and Michael Buble next month.

“Our primary goal is to keep our fans, guests, employees, players and performers safe,” Amy Latimer, president of TD Garden, said. “We have worked diligently with public health officials, experts and our industry leaders and have a shared belief that this is the best approach to keep live events going.”

According to the policy, guests over the age of 12 must be “fully vaccinated” against COVID-19, meaning they received the second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines or one dose of the single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine at least 14 days prior to the event.

TD Garden officials say they will accept the original vaccination card as proof, as well as a digital copy or photo. Guests over the age of 18 will also have to bring a valid ID — such as a driver’s license, state identification card, or passport — that matches with the copy of their vaccination card.

To satisfy the testing, arena officials will accept a printout or digital copy of a negative antigen test sampled within 24 hours of the event or a negative molecular/PCR test sampled within 72 hours of the event as proof.

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Importantly, however, the policy stresses that self-administered at-home rapid/antigen tests will not be accepted.

Officials say the policies will be reviewed and updated on “an ongoing basis.”

“While we had all hoped to see a return to normalcy, we felt it was important to start the year with additional precautions,” Bruins president Cam Neely said in a statement. “After beginning the 2020 season in an empty building, I know that our players, coaches and staff are looking forward to kicking off this year in front of the most passionate hockey fans in the world.”

Celtics president Rich Gotham similarly said the team was “grateful” for a full season in front of a 100 percent capacity crowd.

 “Vaccination verification will help provide our fans with peace of mind as they come back to enjoy the energy of a live Celtics game experience together,” Gotham said.

According to the TD Garden website, children under the age of 12, who are ineligible for the COVID-19 vaccines, do not have to adhere to the vaccination or testing requirements. However, they — like all individuals over the age of 2 — will still have to wear a face covering inside the arena when not actively eating or drinking, in accordance with Boston’s indoor mask mandate. According to the TD Garden, neck gaiters, bandanas, masks with valves or vents, and any covering with only a single layer of cloth are not accepted.

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Some events may require additional health and safety protocols, depending on requests from the artist, promoter, or league (for example, the Laver Cup is also requiring guests ages 4-11 to provide proof of a recent negative test). TD Garden officials encouraged guests to check their event page for more specific information and to review all communications distributed prior to the event.

With the move, TD Garden joins a growing minority of sports stadiums in the United States that have implemented vaccine requirements for guests.

More than half of all NHL teams have announced policies requiring fans to show proof of vaccination or a negative test result to attend games. And a handful of NBA teams — including in Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, San Fransisco, and Toronto — have similar rules.

TD Garden’s website also notes that they anticipate the NBA to announce vaccination requirements for fans sitting within 15 feet of the court that include stricter rules for testing alternatives (a molecular/PCR test sampled within 48 hours of the game or an approved rapid test sampled on the day of the game).

At least four NFL teams — the Seattle Seahawks, Las Vegas Raiders, New Orleans Saints, and Buffalo Bills — also have vaccine requirements for fans.

The new TD Garden policy also doesn’t just apply to fans.

The arena’s website notes that they require all associates and employees to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or submit to regular testing if they have a qualifying medical disability or a sincerely held religious objection.

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