The school said its decision was made “to reduce lines and wait times at gate entry points,” but it encouraged fans “to conduct a self-assessment before heading to the game to check for covid-19 symptoms.”
Robert Munson, LSU’s senior associate athletic director, told The Washington Post that most fans had completed the screening and had it ready to go for gatekeepers but the process was “cumbersome” and time consuming for those who had to show both the screening results and digital tickets on their phone. Munson said other fans had not done the screening and had to step away from the lines and attempt to complete the questionnaire while dealing with spotty cellular coverage around Tiger Stadium.
“The primary concern at the gates is that it becomes a chokepoint,” Munson said in a phone interview Tuesday morning.
Louisiana has the nation’s most reported coronavirus cases per 100,000 people and the fifth-most coronavirus deaths per 100,000 people.
Under LSU’s stadium procedures and guidelines, sections outlining covid-19 screening have been crossed off, with a note that the requirement had been removed Sept. 28. The notice stated that ticket holders 18 or over must undergo a CDC Facilities covid-19 screening, which could also be completed on the LSU sports mobile app. Fans were then directed to the four screening questions on the CDC website. The questions can be completed in less than a minute.
With coronavirus protocols capping capacity at 25 percent, the Tigers hosted more than 21,000 fans in their 102,000-seat stadium for their Sept. 26 season opener against Mississippi State. Tailgating on LSU’s campus, including setups such as “tents, trailers, outdoor cooking, generators and communal food and beverage areas,” has been banned for this season. Munson said there were no violations of the 2020 tailgating policy during the opener.
“We closely monitored all aspects of game day with the new protocols in place knowing there would be areas for improvement,” Munson said in a news release Monday. “Among numerous tweaks and adjustments, observations and data gathered from fans highlighted five primary areas for modifications to our procedures and some areas of emphasis for fans.”
Alcohol sales will now also be allowed at Tiger Stadium. Fans purchasing alcohol must be wearing masks covering their nose and mouth and must consume it at their seats and not in any standing areas.
LSU noted in Monday’s announcement that fans wearing masks over their mouths and noses in the season opener “wore those masks in corridors, concessions and restroom lines. However, a large percentage of fans removed their masks while in their seats in Tiger Stadium. LSU Athletics is reminding fans to wear their masks while in their seats.” Officials also reminded fans to stay in their ticketed seats and that they will “increase monitoring of seat locations.”
Munson said LSU had more Tiger Stadium game day staff for 25 percent attendance in the season opener than ever at full capacity. He added that fans took off their masks for multiple reasons, including the heat and humidity as well as fans feeling too comfortable with how physically distant they were from one another. However there were no reported incidents of fans refusing to put their masks back on and there have been no reports of any fans attending the game testing positive for the coronavirus afterward, Munson said.
The Tigers went through an outbreak on their team, with Coach Ed Orgeron saying last month that “most of our players” contracted the coronavirus and recovered.
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