How to reduce your risk of COVID-19 at sporting events
Fans are back in the stands. From Fenway Park to Polar Park and from the TD Garden to Gillette Stadium, pro sports teams in Massachusetts are allowed to play in front of a live crowd for the first time since the pandemic began.
Massachusetts has limited capacity at sporting events to 12 percent to reduce the spread of COVID-19. This means there will only be about 2,200 fans at Bruins and Cetlics games, about 4,500 fans at Red Sox games, and roughly 7,900 fans at Gillette when the Revolution open their season.
Smaller crowd sizes don’t necessarily mean lesser risk of contracting the virus. Fans still need to take precautions to ensure they remain healthy while taking in a game. The following are some actions you can take to lower your risk of COVID-19 exposure and reduce the spread of the virus whether you are attending a major league sporting event or your child’s high school game.
First: Consider the Risks
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says watching a sporting event at home with members of your own household poses the lowest risk of contracting COVID-19. The agency advises people to stay home because COVID-19 cases remain extremely high, but as more and more venues open, you should consider the risks before deciding whether to attend an in-person event.
- How many COVID-19 cases are there in your community and in the community where the game is taking place? The higher the community transmission, the higher the risk at the sporting event.
- Is the event indoors or outdoors? Indoor events pose a greater risk than outdoor events.
- How many people will be in attendance? What is the maximum capacity of the venue?
- What safety measures are in place to ensure fans stay six feet apart? The TD Garden, for example, now offers mobile concession ordering. Guests can order food and beverage through an app and pick it up at a designated concession stand to limit crowds in the concourse. At Fenway Park, tickets are being sold in pods of two or four. The row in front of you and the row behind your seats will be empty, and empty seats will be zip-tied to prevent fans from switching seats.
Safety at the Game
It is impossible to eliminate all risk of COVID-19 at a sporting event, but you can minimize the risk by taking simple precautions, many of which public health officials have been recommending since the start of the pandemic.
- Wear a mask that completely covers your mouth and nose. Only remove your mask to eat or drink. It’s a good idea to bring extra masks.
- Attend the game only with people in your household.
- Wash your hands frequently with soap and water or use a hand sanitizer containing at least 60 percent alcohol. Bring hand sanitizer to the event so you have some available to you at all times.
- Limit contact with frequently touched surfaces such as handrails, doorknobs and countertops.
- Use contactless payment options whenever possible.
- Visit concessions stands and restrooms at off-peak times to avoid crowds and maintain social distancing while in line. If the venue allows outdoor food and beverages consider bringing your own snacks and bottled water.
- If you plan to drink alcohol, be aware that it can impair judgment and increase risk-taking behavior. People may be less likely to socially distance or wear masks when they drink.
- Root on your team without cheering, shouting or singing - all of which cause respiratory droplets to spread farther. Safer alternatives include stomping, clapping or handheld noise makers.
If you are sick or have been exposed to someone who has COVID-19 stay home. It is possible to spread the virus to others even if you do not have symptoms.
As more and more people get vaccinated for COVID-19 the risk of contracting the virus at a game should decrease. But for now, cases remain high and are rising again in many areas. Check out the CDC website for the latest guidance on attending sporting events.
If you have the ability to go early in the morning, I think that’s the only way you’ll avoid a multi-hour wait. Arrived at 6:50AM (doors open at 8AM, by that time there were 60+ people in line) and I was the ~20th person camping out in line. Got in the door at 8:40AM. Waited for a few minutes in the waiting room while they took my information. Test itself was quick (
Courteous. Efficient. Competent.
I came in for a cut and they took care of me quickly. Place was very clean, too.
The last thing I wanted to do was go into a medical facility right now. I very much appreciated how professional yet human they were. Thanks to Tara and the whole team there. Doing a great job.