The city of New Orleans will require fans to show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken within 72 hours in order to attend Saints home games at Caesars Superdome.
The ruling, announced Thursday by Mayor LaToya Cantrell, also applies to patrons at restaurants, bars and other venues and will go into effect Aug. 16 with enforcement starting the week of Aug. 23, according to NOLA.com.
"As required by the City of New Orleans, fans will simply need to show their vaccination card or verified digital proof of vaccination (LA Wallet or other official government sanctioned app) or negative Covid-19 PCR test taken within the prior 72 hours to attend games," the Saints said in a statement. "Per the Governor's mandate and updated New Orleans regulations, masks will also be required at all times other than when eating or drinking.
"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, who will be permitted to have attendance at full capacity, announced that they will be partnering with Ochsner Health on free vaccination events throughout the area and outside of the Superdome on game days.
"We remain optimistic that, with our community's help and as vaccination rates increase, these restrictions will no longer be necessary as the season progresses," the Saints statement read. "To assist in that effort, the Saints will be teaming up with Ochsner Health on a number of free vaccination events throughout our region and outside of the Caesars Superdome on game day. For detailed information on vaccination opportunities and education, Saints gameday policies and procedures, FAQ and other game information please visit www.neworleanssaints.com."
Thursday's news comes as Louisiana endures a surge in COVID-19 cases sparked by the Delta variant. The state hit a record number of COVID-19 hospitalizations last week with nearly 2,900 virus patients currently hospitalized. The Associated Press reported Wednesday that Louisiana has the country's fourth-lowest vaccination rate, with just over 37 percent of residents fully inoculated against COVID-19.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.