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NBA Team to Have Dogs Screen Fans for Virus

Trained dogs will walk past attendees in a screening area, stopping when they detect an infected person
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jan 24, 2021 5:06 PM CST

(Newser) – The Miami Heat are bringing back fans, with help from dogs. The Heat will use coronavirus-sniffing dogs at AmericanAirlines Arena to screen fans who want to attend their games. The team has been working on the plan for months, and the highly trained dogs have been in place for some games this season where the team has allowed a handful of guests—mostly friends and family of players and staff. Starting this week, the AP reports, a limited number of ticket holders will be in the seats as well, provided they get past the dogs first. "If you think about it, detection dogs are not new," said Matthew Jafarian, a team executive. "You've seen them in airports, they've been used in mission-critical situations by the police and the military. We've used them at the arena for years to detect explosives."

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The first Heat game with ticket holders is scheduled for Thursday against the Los Angeles Clippers. Monday is the first day that season ticket holders will be able to start securing their seats. Attendance will be kept under 2,000 for now, less than 10% of the building's typical capacity. "Please note that seating will be very limited, as we will be observing proper physical distancing," the team wrote to season ticket holders. Coronavirus-sniffing dogs have been used at airports in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, and Helsinki, Finland, in recent months. At Heat games, fans arriving for the game will be brought to a screening area, and the detection dogs will walk past. If the dog keeps going, the fan is cleared; if the dog sits, that's a sign that it's detected the virus, and the fan will be denied entry. A German study last year found that dogs there were right 94% of the time when it came to coronavirus detection.

(Read more coronavirus stories.)

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