Update on Sept 16, 2021:
There are now COVID-19 vaccination policies in place to attend Buffalo Bills, Seattle Seahawks, Las Vegas Raiders and New Orleans Saints home games this season.
The Bills are requiring fans 12 and older to have at least one vaccination dose to attend home games on Sept. 26 and Oct. 3. Beginning Oct. 31, fans must be fully vaccinated, meaning it's been at least two weeks since receiving the second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccines, or at least two weeks after receiving the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Click here for more on the Bills' policy
The Seahawks are requiring all fans 12 and older to provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination or a negative test within 72 hours of attending a game at Lumen Field in Seattle. Click here for more on the Seahawks' policy
The City of New Orleans is requiring fans 12 and older to provide proof that they’ve received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine or a negative test within 72 hours of attending a Saints home game. Click here for more on the policy
The Raiders are requiring all fans to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination to attend home games. Click here for more on the Raiders’ policy
Original story from July 12, 2021:
The 2020 NFL season, which started just six months into the COVID-19 pandemic, saw many empty seats as restrictions were in place to limit how many people could gather at an event. While some teams were able to host some percentage of fans, others were not.
But it appears that’s going to change this fall. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said in March that the league expects all stadiums to have full capacity for the 2021 season. But with the pandemic still ongoing, VERIFY viewer Ralph W. had a question about potentially attending games.
Ralph asked: Will any NFL team require fans to be vaccinated against COVID-19 to attend games this upcoming season?
No, NFL teams aren’t currently requiring fans to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
WHAT WE FOUND
The NFL’s game ticket policy for the 2021 season makes no mention that fans must be vaccinated. Under the policy, there’s a “fan health promise” that lists situations in which people should not attend games.
Fans, regardless of their vaccination status, should not attend a game if they test positive for COVID-19 in the 14 days prior to the game.
There are a few more stipulations for fans who are unvaccinated. They should not attend a game if:
- In the 14 days before the game, they are exposed to someone who tested positive for COVID-19, or are subject to a federal or local travel or quarantine advisory due to COVID-19.
- If in the 48 hours before the game, they experience symptoms of COVID-19, such as a fever of 100.4 degrees or higher, cough, shortness of breath, chills, or any other symptoms identified by the CDC.
People who are fully vaccinated but experience COVID-19 symptoms in the 48 hours leading up to the game should consult a health care provider and get tested for the virus before attending, the NFL says.
But those guidelines stop well short of banning fans who are unvaccinated from attending games. VERIFY reached out to the NFL about how the league plans to enforce its policy but has not heard back.
The NFL’s ticket policy also says fans must follow the ticket terms of the team hosting the game. A review by VERIFY of the ticket terms for each of the 32 NFL teams showed no team requires fans to be vaccinated as a condition of purchasing a ticket. The conditions of the tickets are subject to change, though. You can find a link to your team’s ticket policy here.
Some teams have come out and directly said they will not require fans to be vaccinated. Those teams include but are not limited to the New Orleans Saints, New York Giants and San Francisco 49ers.
Some stadiums, including the homes of the New England Patriots and Carolina Panthers, have also directly said fans will not be required to show proof of vaccination to attend games.
During the spring of 2021, it looked like fans may be required to be vaccinated to attend Buffalo Bills games. In April, Erie County executive Mark Poloncarz said fans would have to be vaccinated to attend Bills games at Highmark Stadium, which Erie County owns. But in June, Poloncarz said the county was rescinding the vaccination requirement, although he noted that could change in the future “if circumstances warrant.”
The Bills have since said vaccinated and unvaccinated fans are welcome to home games this upcoming season.
So, up to this point, no NFL teams have said they’ll require fans to be vaccinated when regular-season games kick off in September.
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