The dogs "have been specifically trained to identify active virus," according to the team

By Maria Pasquini
January 21, 2021 06:17 PM
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covid-detecting dogs

The Miami Heat are implementing a novel safety measure amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Starting Jan. 28, when a limited number of fans will be allowed to attend home games at AmericanAirlines Arena, all attendees will be screened by a trained COVID-19 detection dog.

According to the Heat's website, the dogs "have been specifically trained to identify active virus," and all guests — regardless of whether they have received the vaccine or not — will need to undergo screening before being allowed to enter the arena.

A study conducted by the University of Veterinary Medicine Hannover in cooperation with the German Armed Forces, previously found that if trained properly, dogs were able to sniff out the disease in the saliva of patients with COVID-19.

In the event that the canine signals that an individual has COVID-19, both that person, as well as any others they might have traveled with, will be denied entrance.

"If you or anyone in your travel party is signaled by a canine, all members of the party will not be permitted to enter the arena," reads a health and safety page on the team's website. "A staff member will notify you of the next steps regarding your ticket purchase."

If guests prefer "not to be screened by the Canine Team," there will be a different testing option available -- however, the alternative process can take up to 45 minutes.  

covid-detecting dogs
Credit: WPLG Local 10/Miami Heat

Additionally, fans sitting within 30 feet of the court "will be required to undergo an on-site rapid test at the Arena prior to the game and be cleared by our testing provider." 

Face masks will also be available to all guests in attendance. While KN95, N95, cloth and surgical masks have all been approved to be worn in the stadium, bandanas, gaiters and masks with ventilators will not be permitted. 

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According to WPLG, the crowd at the arena will be limited to around 1,500 season ticket holders.

"We're far from being in a place where you can pack an arena," Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra said, according to WSVN. "To be able to start to invite people in and do it in the absolute safest way, I think it's a step in the right direction. Then, we just have to continue to do everything with great vigilance."

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