SJ mayor wants to drop COVID booster mandate at city-owned venues, Sharks say rules are bad for biz

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Friday, February 25, 2022
SJ mayor wants to drop booster mandate at city-owned venues
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Mayor Sam Liccardo wants to drop the city's coronavirus booster requirement to get into city-owned facilities

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo wants to drop the city's COVID-19 booster requirement to get into city-owned facilities.

Doing so would impact venues like the SAP Center- home of the Sharks. Team President Jonathan Becher told reporters on Wednesday, mandates and the on-going pandemic are the reason for low-attendance at the SAP Center.

"The drive to get actual people in becomes much more difficult when you have to vax, boost, test, mask, etc.," he said.

At city-owned facilities across San Jose, visitors have gotten used to following signs for vaccine verification. Earlier this month, COVID-19 boosters were added to the list of requirements at city-owned venues.

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Then on Thursday, Mayor Liccardo announced a proposal to drop the booster mandate.

In a statement, he said, "The booster mandate served its purpose during the omicron surge, by encouraging attendees and visitors in public buildings to protect themselves and each other during the period when our ICU's faced the greatest stress of rising hospitalizations. While this surge has run its course, we must remain vigilant about the next one."

Outside the SAP Center and ahead of Thursday afternoon's game, some fans said the mandate made no difference.

"It's not stopping me at all. I just want to live my life and enjoy life," Gene Izatt told ABC7 News.

VIDEO: SAP Center, Chase Center update COVID testing, vaccination rules for children

Others weighed in on what they think is impacting turnout.

"Well, COVID," Christie Wendling said. "A lot of people - that still makes them nervous and everything, so... I don't know."

Laura Colburn said, "It's for sure because of COVID and the mandates. I had to go get tested, even though I'm vaccinated. But I didn't have my booster."

Becher admitted team performance is also a factor, but said fan surveys show it is far from the top concern.

Wendling, who described herself as a "super fan," told ABC7 News, "The core of us are dedicated. But yeah, it would be great if we would start winning again. Then the other fans start rolling in."

"Biggest issue affecting attendance is the mandates," Becher said on Wednesday. "NHL, state, county, city - it feels like we have more mandates than any other venue in the United States."

RELATED: Santa Clara Co. meets metrics to remove indoor mask mandate

However, up north, the Golden State Warriors are selling out the Chase Center with a booster mandate in place.

Becher said there are differences, including tougher restrictions and testing, which only recently became an option for guests at the Shark Tank.

If city council approves the mayor's proposal to drop the booster mandate next week, the decision will coincide with the county's plan to drop its indoor mask mandate.

ABC7 News reached out to Mayor Liccardo's office and Becher, but neither was available to comment.