New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell made an announcement Thursday that will affect all Saints fans. Cantrell unveiled new COVID-19 measures that will require fans to provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination or a negative COVID test in order to attend an event at the Superdome in 2021, according to nola.com.
Those measures won't just apply to the Superdome. Residents hoping to attend restaurants and bars will be subject to the same rules. Cantrell announced the regulations as COVID-19 cases skyrocket in New Orleans. Louisiana reported over 16,000 new COVID cases over the weekend. Cantrell already reinstated a mask mandate July 30 to try and curb the virus.
Cantrell's new measures will begin Monday. They will start being enforced Aug. 23. If citizens have received one shot — Moderna and Pfizer vaccines require two doses — they will still be able to show proof of vaccination and be allowed into bars, restaurants or events. Unvaccinated citizens will have to show a negative PCR test from the past 72 hours in order to enter impacted establishments.
The news comes as the Delta variant of COVID-19 spreads across the United States. While breakthrough cases of the virus are possible among the vaccinated, the Delta variant is having a much more serious impact on those who are not vaccinated against the coronavirus. Data from May indicates over 98 percent of COVID hospitalizations have occurred in unvaccinated individuals, according to the Associated Press.
Saints fought with LaToya Cantrell last season over attendance
The Saints lobbied Cantrell to allow fans at games last season, but Cantrell refused to budge. The Saints were unhappy about that decision, and attempted to play games at LSU's Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge. Those plans never materialized. The team eventually was able to host limited fans late in the season.
Cantrell's new guidelines would allow fans to attend games at the Superdome, which is what the team wanted last season. The Saints open the regular season at home against the Green Bay Packers on Sept. 12.
Saints release statement on new COVID-19 measures
The Saints released a statement Thursday responding to the new COVID-19 measures. The team said it was committed to protecting its fans.
"We are committed to doing everything we can in the current environment to protect your health and safety while at the same time providing the best game day experience in the NFL. Our team has been blessed with the greatest home field advantage in sports because we have the most committed, resilient and passionate fans in the world. We understand some will be frustrated, as are we, that we find ourselves in this position. We, as a community, have overcome so much in our history and come back stronger every time. Together, we can defeat this virus and return to living, celebrating and winning in the way we always have. We need you in that number - both on game day and in defeating this virus."
The Saints noted that they hope vaccination rates increase so that the new measures will not be necessary as the season progresses. The Saints also said they are partnering with Ochsner Health — a healthcare provider in Louisiana — to hold free vaccination events outside the stadium on game days.
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