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Ensuring COVID-19 health and safety regulations are in place are at the forefront of preparations underway at Sofi Stadium ahead of Super Bowl LVI.

“This is going to be one of the safest, most glamorous Super Bowls in the history of Super Bowls,” Inglewood Mayor James Butts said at a media briefing Wednesday.

As such, fans will be required to comply with all L.A. County COVID-19 health and safety protocols at the stadium, Russ Simons, senior advisor of facilities including SoFi Stadium, reiterated.

The protocols include a mandatory mask requirement for everyone two years and older, regardless of vaccination status. That’s a part of the county’s mandate that requires masking at outdoor mega-events involving 5,000 or more attendees, like sports games, unless a person is actively eating or drinking.

“That doesn’t mean buy a bucket of popcorn and eat it for two hours — actively eating and drinking,” Simons said. “We are on to you.”

Free KN95 face masks will be given out to spectators who are in attendance for the Super Bowl at SoFi Stadium.

“L.A. County’s transmissions are still high. So now is not the time to let down our guard,” county Supervisor Holly Mitchell said at the news conference. “Masking is a modest requirement that works … and it certainly will not affect the attendance or our enjoyment of the game.”

Here are some of Sofi’s health and safety protocols:

  • The staff utilizes electrostatic spraying throughout the space. They frequently and consistently disinfect horizontal surfaces and common touch points. There is also UVC lighting in order to sanitize the field.
  • The campus is outfitted with more than 400 automated touchless hand sanitizers as well as touchless soap, water and towel dispensers. 
  • Sofi is a cashless stadium and offers many contactless pay options. 
  • There is a mandatory mask requirement in the stadium for everyone two years of age and older, regardless of their vaccination status. Attendees are required to wear a face covering in the stadium and the tailgate areas, except while actively eating and drinking.
  • Medically appropriate masks will be provided to attendees and will be placed on each seat in the stadium.
  • Attendees five and older must provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination or a negative PCR test within 48 hours of the event or a negative antigen test within 24 hours of the event. Attendees 18 and older are also required to display a government issued ID as verification.

Will the rules be enforced?

Staff at the stadium will be on hand to remind people to mask up.

There will be ambassadors throughout every single level, reminding people to raise their masks. There will also be “massive reminders” up on the video boards and upon entry, according to stadium officials.

“It’s a challenge. It’s a very large building but we are prepared and ready to go,” said Jon Barker, head of Live Event Operations for the NFL. “We have had two years of experience of planning under COVID and we’re extremely confident in the plans that we have in place.”

In response to a question regarding whether vaccine cards will actually be checked, Barker said there is a difference in operations for the Super Bowl — versus other events at the stadium — in order to ensure compliance.

Temporary entry gates will be constructed for the Super Bowl, designed to allow for multiple points of verification for vaccine checks, security checkpoints and ticket checks.

“It gives us really the luxury to be able to design it specifically for the ability to verify vaccination status as people come through,” Barker said.

Mask drama

Earlier this week, photos circulated of Gov. Gavin Newsom and L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti maskless at the Rams-49ers NFC championship game at SoFi Stadium, drawing backlash online from residents and politicians, who pointed to the images as examples of double standards.

Newsom and Garcetti both said they removed their mask only briefly to pose for the photos, which were shared by basketball legend Earvin “Magic” Johnson. At Wednesday’s briefing, Garcetti again said he only took the mask off for a few seconds and held his breath to take the photo.

In response to the backlash, L.A. County Supervisor Kathryn Barger called for local officials to reevaluate masking mandates.

“I strongly believe individuals should be allowed to make an informed choice about whether to mask up or not,” Barger said in a statement. “I hope state and local health leaders take this into consideration and re-evaluate indoor and school masking mandates now.” 

But L.A. County Health Director Barbara Ferrer defended the local mask requirements, saying low mask compliance at the NFC event is not a good reason to get rid of the mask requirements.

And on Wednesday, Supervisor Mitchell echoed the sentiment and responded to her fellow Supervisor’s comments, saying: “I’m not sure what motivated Supervisor Barger to make her public statement.”

“As chairwoman of the board and the person who actually represents SoFi Stadium, I stand by the director of our Department of Public Health and literally every other public health official across the country, who acknowledges that mask wearing is a easy form of protection,” Mitchell continued. “And so I’m encouraging everyone who’s going to be at the game to wear a mask. It’s simple, it’s easy.”

Mitchell went on to say that workers at the stadium must be protected and that the VIPs at the game should “absolutely not” be treated differently in complying with the mask mandate.

Super Bowl Experience

The Super Bowl Experience presented by Lowe’s is set to open at the L.A. Convention Center this weekend.

“Thanks to the generosity of the NFL, residents and fans attending the Super Bowl Experience will be able to take a free rapid antigen test when they get to the event and then take home a free over-the-counter test kit to use before gathering with others on Super Bowl Sunday,” Ferrer said.

COVID-19 vaccines and booster doses will also be available at the convention center. Anybody who gets a dose of the vaccine will be offered free entry to the Super Bowl Experience. Any child that gets vaccinated will get a fastpass to the Super Bowl Experience.