Football fans attending the upcoming Super Bowl have been urged to wear masks because of possible COVID-19 exposure.
The annual football championship is scheduled for Feb. 13 at the SoFi Stadium in the Los Angeles area. The Los Angeles County health department currently requires masks in public with a small number of exceptions.
Approximately 70,000 people are expected to attend and organizers have noted that it will be challenging to enforce the masks mandate.
Thousand of fans were photographed at the SoFi Stadium on Jan. 30 without masks, including Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti as well as Gov. Gavin Newsom and San Francisco Mayor London Breed.
Garcetti has since joined other National Football League officials in urging Super Bowl ticket holders to wear a mask at the event.
Los Angeles Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer has said it is unlikely that the county will drop the mask mandate before the game.
“Transmission is super high here. And we’ve got to get to lower rates before it makes sense to be taking off our masks,” she said to AP News.
Per the county’s Super Bowl COVID-19 guidelines, attendants will be given KN95 masks prior to entering the Inglewood stadium. They will also be reminded to wear their mask during the game except when eating or drinking.
“The county and NFL will also partner to offer free rapid COVID-19 testing and vaccines at the Super Bowl Experience attraction at the L.A. Convention Center, with free admission offered to people who receive an on-site vaccination,” reports Fox LA. “All visitors to the Super Bowl Experience will receive a free take-home COVID testing kit, with Ferrer estimating that 60,000 such kits will be distributed.”
LA County is currently reporting an average of 16,000 new coronavirus cases a day. The case numbers peaked in January with 44,000 new cases each day, per the Los Angles Times.
“Masking is a modest requirement that works,” said the chair of the L.A. County Board of Supervisors, Holly J. Mitchell, at a Feb. 2 press conference. “Masking doesn’t affect a business’ bottom line, and it certainly will not affect the attendance or our enjoyment of the game. L.A. County will stay the course. As it’s been doing, the county of L.A. will develop and implement thoughtful and medically informed plans to relax masking and other COVID-19 requirements when the surge is over.”
At the press conference, Inglewood Mayor James T. Butts Jr. said, “This is going to be one of the safest, most glamorous Super Bowls in the history of Super Bowls. … So we want everybody to wear your mask. Get vaccinated if you’re so inclined. And come enjoy the new city of Inglewood.”
The LA Rams will face the Cincinnati Bengals at this year’s Super Bowl.