Live sports and events are returning to Vancouver with vaccination cards and venues half full

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On Saturday, some of Vancouver’s most iconic arts and sporting events returned, with attendees required to provide proof of vaccination as the city continues to experience a fourth wave of COVID-19.

Vancouver Coastal Health recorded 83 new cases of the virus on Friday, with more than 1,000 active cases recorded for the area.

But with more than 80 percent of Vancouver residents 12 and older being double-vaccinated and requiring vaccination cards to attend events with admission tickets, it has been a day of cautious optimism for many avid customers.

Some of the marquee events that returned on Saturday were the World Rugby Sevens Series, which saw more than 13,000 spectators, and the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra.

The Vancouver Symphony Orchestra is pictured here practicing ahead of their first performance in more than a year on Saturday September 18th. (Janella Hamilton / CBC)

“In the season behind us we played, we made music, but there was never an audience. And it is very, very different when this audience reacts,” said Otto Tausk, music director of the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra.

“It’s great to do digital things, but it will never replace real performance.

The VSO last played a live event in March 2020 and had resorted to a series of digital performances since then.

Noah Reitman, president of the Vancouver Musicians’ Association and assistant principal bassist for the orchestra, said the provincial music profession has been “decimated” by the venue’s 18-month closure.

“I hope things are slowly creeping back in the province. Things are going back to normal, ”he said.

Participation at the venue limited to 50%

The VSO is supposed to play in front of 1,200 visitors on Saturday and Sunday, half the capacity of the Orpheum Theater. According to step 3 of the province’s restart plan, events can be held with tickets with 50 percent capacity.

Guests and performers may be masked and guests must also provide proof of vaccination when entering the arenas.

However, Vancouverians who wanted to see a live opera on Saturday didn’t have to do any of it.

The Vancouver Opera began its preparations for the coming season in a cautious manner when the performers performed three-hour sets on the Å¡xʷƛ̓exÉ™n Xwtl’a7shn square for around a dozen people free of charge.

The Vancouver Opera hosted a free three-hour performance on September 18, 2021 at Å¡xʷƛ̓exÉ™n Xwtl’a7shn Plaza in downtown Vancouver. (Tom Wright / Vancouver Opera)

The opera will return to the Queen Elizabeth Theater in December, but Tom Wright, the opera’s general manager, said the small performances on Saturday and Sunday would help them get on with the big day.

“The clapping, the applause, the ‘oh’s’, the groaning, the moaning – that’s what makes live performances so special,” he said.

BC Place experienced much of this atmosphere on Saturday with 13,000 loud fans cheering for the Canadian men’s and women’s teams as the World Rugby Sevens Series kicked off.

More than 13,000 spectators watched the rugby sevens action in Vancouver on Saturday 18 September, some of them masked. All fans who entered BC Place were required to present a vaccination card. (Antonin Sturlese / CBC)

According to Jamie Levchuk, Managing Director of Business Operations at Rugby Canada, all players in the series from more than 12 countries have both vaccinations and in a “bladder” environment.

“It’s amazing to see high-level rugby again and to be in this setting. I’m so excited to say I can practice this sport,” said Kayla Moleschi, a two-time Olympian who is resting for the Tokyo 2020 series .

“Of course it feels great to be here in the crowd and enjoy a sport that we all love and that we all have a little bit of … just being next to each other.”

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