Caution is the name of the game at New Orleans Saints games this season. At least at the start.
In a statement this week, the NFL franchise expressed gratitude “to have received all the necessary approvals to host a full capacity crowd at the Caesars Superdome this season.”
That said, the team will require fans to provide proof of a single vaccination dose or a negative COVID-19 test before entering any Saints games this season. The Saints made clear that fans 12 years old or younger do not need to provide proof of vaccination or negative test.
The latest guidelines from the city and the state of Louisiana have mandated these precautions for anyone visiting a sports or entertainment venue, such as Caesars Superdome, or any other indoor facility or large social gathering.
“Our first priority will always be the health and safety of our fans, employees, game day staff, players and participants,” the Saints said in a recent statement.
LaToya Cantrell, mayor of New Orleans, had rescinded an indoor mask mandate in May because coronavirus cases were decreasing. The mandate went back into effect July 30 due to the Delta variant and the resulting record-high infections and hospitalizations.
Saints requiring fans to wear masks at games
This comes as part of guidelines that will allow the Saints to fill the stadium on game days. But game-goers must wear masks at all times, except when eating or drinking, per the governor’s mandate.
Every attendee can either show their vaccination card or proof of negative status. Fans can show digital proof of vaccination via LA Wallet or any other government-sanctioned app. Otherwise, they must prove a negative test result from within the previous 72 hours.
Following pandemic guidelines last year resulted in the Saints ranking first in the NFL for health and safety.
Team policies tend to follow local government guidelines. Every NFL team can adopt its own individual policy for handling the pandemic situation. While the Saints are choosing a cautious approach, the Indianapolis Colts are not requiring fans to weark masks, recommending but not requiring them of fans.
The team remains “hopeful” that the city mandate will only hold a temporary status.
“We appreciate the overwhelming positive feedback we have received from our season ticket holders to be a part of a full capacity Caesars Superdome. We have the best and loudest fans in the NFL and they will be counted on this season.”
Saints hope to give Louisiana vaccine rate a shot in the arm
As of Aug. 16, only 38% of Louisiana’s population had been fully vaccinated. The state has the third-lowest partial (one-shot) percentage in the country.
To help bring the state’s lagging rate up, the Saints and Oschner Health have partnered up to deliver free vaccination events throughout the area and at Caesars Superdome on game day.
Louisiana attempted to bring rates up earlier this summer with a million-dollar vaccine lottery.
The Saints will kick off the season Sept. 12 when they host the Green Bay Packers.