By Kevin Haas
Rock River Current

ROCKFORD — Public health officials are recommending that entertainment venues such as the downtown BMO Harris Bank Center require proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test to enter large events.

Similar requirements have been implemented at major national venues, including the United Center in Chicago, where the Chicago Blackhawks and Bulls play home games.

“Winnebago County Health Department supports these requirements and recommends that indoor venues such as the BMO Harris Center require proof of vaccination for eligible individuals age 12 and over or proof of negative tests at events at which social distancing is not possible,” Cynthia Hall, public information officer for the health department, said in an email response to the Rock River Current. “Additional health and safety measured may be required when event sponsors or entities chose to implement consistent policies across venues.”

It’s undecided if the Rockford IceHogs will adopt the rule for their home games, said Mike Peck, director of marketing for the IceHogs. The Rockford Area Venues and Entertainment Authority, which manages the BMO Harris Bank Center and Coronado Performing Arts Center, is not enacting a blanket rule for its venues. Instead, it will be a per event decision made by the promoter, said Gretchen Gilmore, RAVE’s general manager.

The IceHogs still have time to put a rule into place. The Hogs play their first away game Oct. 15 in Grand Rapids, Michigan, but because of the renovations underway including a new ice rink, the Hogs don’t play at home until Nov. 6.

Masks will be required indoors regardless of vaccination status per the statewide executive order.

RAVE previously enacted several safety guidelines before reopening the Coronado in late August. Those measures include mandatory face coverings, hand-sanitizer stations, contactless payment, early opening and encouraging social distancing.

“We are following all Winnebago County Health Department and state health protocols, and all CDC guidelines to reopen the Coronado Performing Arts Center and encourage everyone attending to follow them as well, for as we have learned, we are truly all in this together,” Gilmore said in a news release at the time.

Nearly 48% of Winnebago County residents have been fully vaccinated, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health. Statewide, more than 55% of people are fully vaccinated.

This article is by Kevin Haas. Email him at or follow him on Twitter at @KevinMHaas or Instagram @thekevinhaas.