SAP Center expands COVID policy for children to prevent superspreader events

The SAP Center in San Jose has updated its guest attendance policy to align with health and safety directives outlined by the state.

Beginning on Thursday children ages 3 and up must show proof of a negative COVID test within 72 hours of an event. Children ages 5 and up can also show proof of full vaccination. Kids 12 and older must be vaccinated to enter.

"It looks as though this is what the industry is moving towards. Because that seems to be in line with what the CDC is recommending now," said Jason Chung, assistant professor of sports management at the University of New Haven.

The updated rules affect events being held at statewide indoor venues with attendance levels of 1,000 guests or more. 

San Francisco's Chase Center also plans to follow suit.

Sharks Sports and Entertainment said the requirements will remain in place until local health and safety guidance is revised.

"There are certain things that I think we all have to just deal with, and jump through some of these hoops," said Dr. Jake Scott, an infectious diseases expert with Stanford Healthcare.

Scott said requiring children to either show proof of inoculation or a negative test can prevent a fun outing from becoming a superspreader event.

That was the case with a recent anime event in New York City.

"I do think there’s a possibility of kids under 12 spreading COVID. Especially in light of the emergence of the new omicron variant," said Scott. "Now that the adults are vaccinated, or a good majority of them are, we are seeing more and more cases that are stemming from kids."

The new policy will be in effect for the San Jose Sharks versus Minnesota Wild game happening Thursday at 7:30 p.m.

Experts said the added safety measures may mean fewer people coming in, and more opting to avoid indoor events.

"We won’t know the full extent until the end of the season. But anecdotally, yes I’ve been hearing (attendance) is down just because people are still scared of transmission," said Chung.

Health experts said the best and fastest way to get to the other side of this pandemic is increasing vaccination rates.