Canadian country singer Gord Bamford says he's giving unvaccinated fans COVID-19 rapid antigen tests before they attend his concerts and will set up mobile testing sites in communities the day before his shows.
Bamford posted a video on his Twitter account this week announcing the plan for the concert series, called the Kick COVID In the A** Tour and set for stops in Alberta and Saskatchewan from December through May.
He said fans can register for an antigen test, paid for by Bamford, when purchasing tickets online. He added that he would fully refund ticket costs for those who test positive on the rapid test.
"This testing process will be managed by certified health professionals that are in complete compliance with all current provincial health regulations," Bamford said.
"We're doing our very best to keep everyone's rights in place in a safe and manageable environment. I will continue to make sure to the best of my ability that you, my fans, have the opportunity to come to one of my shows."
Bamford said in the video that he and his band members have all been fully vaccinated, calling it a "choice of each individual, not a company mandate."
A note on the tour's website says proof of a negative test or COVID-19 vaccination is required. Fans aged two years and older must wear a mask at all times, except when drinking or eating in their seats.
It adds that tests will not be conducted at the door — fans who register for a test will receive an email one week before the show with testing details.
Bamford said in the video fans can then schedule an appointment at a mobile testing site that will be set up in their community one day before the show.
Rapid antigen tests detect specific proteins on the surface of the virus. They typically yield results within 15 minutes to one hour.
Health Canada says on its website that positive results from rapid antigen detection tests are presumed positive until a PCR test confirms the result.
A negative result means a person tested negative for the COVID-19 virus only on the day the test was taken, but doesn't guarantee the result would still be negative in the following days. Experts have said it's possible the virus could be incubating in a person at the time they are tested, and not detected by a test.
COVID-19 restrictions on indoor concert venues vary across the country, with many requiring proof of vaccination or a negative test for entry.
Bamford, who was born in Australia but grew up in Alberta, said he and his team spent "countless hours" coming up with a way for unvaccinated fans to see his concerts.
"I believe in freedom of speech and choice and every person on this earth should have that right," he said.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 5, 2021.
The Canadian Press