Q&A: What’s the gameplan for staying COVID-free at SoFi for NFC title game, Super Bowl?
INGLEWOOD — When they were drawing up the plans for SoFi Stadium several years ago, the dealmakers definitely had visions of big games and epic moments inside the Palace on Prairie.
Championship games? Of course. A Super Bowl. Gotta have it. Wrestlemania? Slammin’! Big-name concerts? Bring on Taylor — and Mick and the lads, too.
COVID-19? What the heck is that?
Back then no one was ready for the heartbreak, financial burdens and public-health challenges posed by two years of pandemic. SoFi even hosted NFL games without fans during the worst of it.
Flashforward to 2022 The $5 billion complex will stand at the center of the NFL universe twice in two weeks — for the NFC Championship and Super Bowl — but also at a strange crossroads in the path of the coronavirus.
The staggering explosion of cases over the last month in Los Angeles County is finally starting to ease up, as the omicron variant’s reach appears to have reached its peak.
Nonetheless, there will be 70,000 screaming, yelling, laughing, eating people gathered Sunday until its state-of-the-art roof, and public health officials vow to keep them safe.
So here is a quick refresher on the COVID-19 “mega-event” rules, if you’re headed to Inglewood for the big game(s).
Do I have to wear a mask?
You’ve got to wear a mask, regardless of vaccination status and you shouldn’t take it off, even if it’s to pray for Matthew Stafford to connect with Cooper Kupp way downfield.
But you can take it off for nachos. Or beer. Right: You can go mask-free while eating, but the staff ask you to strap it back on when you’re done (and please wipe off that cheese first).
What kind of mask?
Officials have upped their game, urging you to upgrade from your fabric face cover to a more reliable N95 or KN95 model, more like the kind medical profesionals use.
To that end, every person attending the Super Bowl at SoFi next month will be given a KN95 mask.
Do not, however:
- Wear a mask with a valve or other hole;
- Plan on using a bandana or scarf instead; or
- Use a face shield in lieu of a mask (you can add such a transparent plastic cover as extra protection, but the mask comes first).
- Read the L.A. County Public Health Order here
Do the kids have to wear a mask?
Yes, all NFL fans 2 years and older.
Do I have to be vaccinated?
That’s the ideal. But a timely test works, too.
All fans 5 and older are required to show proof of either COVID-19 vaccination, or a negative antigen COVID test within one day (24 hours) or a negative PCR test within two days (48 hours) of the first parking zone opening at 10:30 a.m. on Sunday.
On-site testing will be available for $59 near Entries 5, 7 and 9.
How do I prove I was tested?
Your results must show your name, type of test performed and negative-outcome result date.
Acceptable proof includes:
- A printed document from the test provider or laboratory;
- An email or text message displayed on a phone from the test provider or laboratory.
Over-the-counter and at-home tests will be not be accepted.
And a photo ID must be presented by fans 18 and older with a name matching the test result or vaccine card.
What if I am vaccinated?
You’ll need to prove it. Acceptable forms of proof include the name of the person vaccinated, type of COVID-19 vaccine provided and date of last dose administered. These will work:
- Physical vaccination card;
- Digital copy of your vaccination card;
- Photograph of your physical vaccination card as a separate document or stored on a phone or electronic device; or
- Documentation of your full vaccination from a healthcare provider.
How will the rules be enforced?
Well, you probably won’t get a yellow flag thrown at the spot of the foul, but you might get frequent reminders from stadium staff or public health officials to put that mask back on.
County officials say stadium staff has been successful in ensuring compliance and, at times, turning away those who don’t want to play by the rules.
L.A. County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer voiced confidence this week that the events themselves would not promote the spread of the virus. She said a season’s worth of games at SoFi Stadium, drawing 1.2 million people, have shown that such giant events can happen safely, when people adhere to masking rules, vaccination and testing protocols.
“Thanks to high cooperation among the fans, spectators, SoFi Stadium, and the teams, we’ve had really decent compliance,” she said, thanks to people adhering to vaccination, testing and masking rules. “I have confidence that for months now we have been open and layered in protections that people will continue to be cautious, to take advantage of all the strategies that are available to keep themselves and the people they love safe and that the partnership with both the NFL and SoFi Stadium gives us a good opportunity to hold and event with as much safety as possible.”