Mar. 14—Cross Insurance Arena in Portland will no longer require proof of vaccination against COVID-19 or a negative test result for entry into its events.
The arena announced its new policy, which was effective immediately, on social media Monday afternoon, stating, "Due to reduced levels of COVID-19 community transmission in Cumberland County, effective immediately, we are no longer requiring proof of vaccination or negative test until further notice. Masks are recommended when attending an event."
Cross arena is home to the Maine Mariners professional hockey team, which hosts a game there Wednesday night against the Adirondack Thunder at 7 p.m. The arena will continue to recommend wearing masks at all events. That policy did not change.
Adam Goldberg, the vice-president of business operations for the Mariners, said the change in vaccination policy could be good news for the final month of the season.
"I guess it opens up the ability for people who didn't want any restrictions to come to a game with 10 games left in the season," he said. "I think the county has done a good job of observing what's happening in the area and adapting to what they see."
The city of Portland also made a COVID-19 policy change on Monday, lifting its mask mandates at city venues, which include Merrill Auditorium, the Portland Expo and Ocean Gateway. The wearing of masks will now be "recommended for those who might be at high risk" at those venues, according to a press release.
However, the city did not lift its vaccine mandate. Patrons age 5-and-over attending events at those venues will still be required to provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination or a negative COVID test result.
The State Theater in Portland will also continue to require proof of COVID-19 vaccination or a negative COVID test result.
Bill O'Malley, the regional marketing director for Cross Insurance Arena, said attendance has been strong there since last October, even with the vaccination mandate. He added arena officials have been discussing the mandate with county officials almost daily.
"When we saw Boston, the TD Garden specifically, lift its mandate, we said it was something to think about," said O'Malley. "The county looked at how the cases were going, everything seemed to be dropping, and that's when they said it's time to lift it."
O'Malley added that the policy could change from event to event, if a promoter or show runner requests it.
In the recent high school sports tournaments at the Cross Insurance Arena, masks were required for fans, not recommended, because the Maine Principals' Association asked for that.
"If someone wants a stricter policy, we will put it in," said O'Malley.