Football stadiums throughout Texas have been cleared to fill the stands up to 50 percent their capacity by Republican Gov. Greg Abbott. However, health experts monitoring the coronavirus pandemic are not convinced that venues should follow the order and admit that many fans this fall.
The decision on admitting ticket holders ultimately boils down to individual leagues and teams though Abbott’s order set the framework for allowing them the choice to host fans.
“Sure, the governor says, ‘You can have 45,000 people gather at the Cowboys’ stadium,'” Dallas County Medical Society president Dr. Mark Casanova told the Dallas Morning News. “Does that mean the NFL, Jerry Jones and the other relevant stakeholders should act on that? They could, but should they? I think that’s the nutshell. Just because you can, it’s not saying you have to. It’s not saying you should.”
The official launch of the NFL season is still three months away with plenty of changes possible in that time. However, medical experts are weary of stadiums would keep the stadium environment clean and safe with thousands of fans onsite, including procedures for fans filing in and out of the grounds, concession stand health protocols and bathroom cleanliness.
The concept of social distancing has also come under fire as doctors warn that the standard six feet of distance long-advised may not be sufficient when it comes to sporting events.
“Six feet does not apply to yelling because the ref made a bad call, because Zeke [Elliott] just scored another touchdown,” Casanova added. “That transmission potential may be as high as 15 feet or thereabouts, depending on the individual and the veracity of their ability to project their voice.”
Experts are not necessarily for leaving stadiums empty this NFL season but have suggested easing their way up to the 50 percent capacity threshold over time, allowing them to modify and fine-tune safety protocols.