Eagles fans rejoice! As of Tuesday, October 13, Philadelphia fans are now allowed back in Lincoln Financial Field after city officials have changed their restrictions.
COVID-19 took the country by storm this year, forcing closures, delays, and a whole lot of disappointment.
This past July, the city of Philadelphia banned all public events over 50 people that would require a permit until the end of February 2021. Although NFL games are considered private events, the NFL gave local authorities the right to prohibit a crowd.
Philadelphia then decided to postpone all Eagles fans from attending home games at Lincoln Financial Field until further notice.
All 32 teams have created their own coronavirus pandemic guidelines regarding fan attendance. So far 14 teams have made accommodations to allow this, including the Miami Dolphins, Cincinnati Bengals, and Houston Texans.
The Pittsburgh Steelers also had nearly 5,000 fans in attendance for their game against the Eagles last Sunday.
SOME RULES ARE MEANT TO BE BROKEN
Although Philadelphia was mentally prepared to not see any fans at The Linc until the 2021-2022 season, the city changed its mandates this week.
Philadelphia officials announced that the city will now follow Pennsylvania’s lead. Indoor and outdoor limits are now based on each venue’s size. However, given the higher incidence of COVID-19 in Philadelphia, the rules will be stricter.
Prior to the change, outdoor events had a fixed maximum occupancy of 250 individuals.
Now, the city will allow 20% of the maximum occupancy if it is less than 2,000 people. If the maximum occupancy is greater than 2,000 people, the city will allow 15%, but no more than 7,500 people.
The actual number of fans in attendance will be somewhat less. This number will need to account for players, coaches, staff, and media.
Eagles’ President Don Smolenski said, “We have been working very closely with state and local officials, public health experts, and the National Football League on a number of scenarios to safely bring Eagles fans back to Lincoln Financial Field. After many thoughtful and active discussions, we are thrilled to announce that the fan experience will return to Lincoln Financial Field this Sunday”.
NEW SAFETY MEASURES
Upon entering Week 6 against the Baltimore Ravens, all attendees will be required to wear face coverings (age two and over) at all times unless eating or drinking.
A six feet social distance requirement from other fans and staff will also be mandatory. Guests will be assigned a specific gate for entry, and personalized seating pods will be assigned.
Parking passes will now be digital, and all concession stands will be cashless.
The stadium will undergo thorough cleaning, disinfecting, and sanitation practices before, during, and after each game.
More importantly, there is a “fan health promise” in effect. Fans should stay home if they have tested positive for COVID-19 or have been exposed to someone who tested positive within the last 14 days. This also includes individuals who have experienced symptoms within 48 hours or have traveled to any state identified as a high-risk within the last 14 days.
Tailgating and social gatherings will be prohibited for the remainder of the season.
Season ticket holders who opted into the 2020 season will be the first fans to obtain single-game tickets against the Ravens and next week against the New York Giants. Tickets went on sale today and will be sold in groups with a maximum of six seats per pod.
Any remaining tickets for the Ravens and Giants games will go on sale to the general public. That date will be announced later and will likely sell out quickly. Single-game tickets for the remaining 2020 home games will then go on sale following that.
EAGLES DEPENDING ON FAN ENERGY
Despite COVID-19 wiping out the fan experience during the first five weeks, the Eagles have struggled to find their groove this season. With their 1-3-1 record, fans may be just what The Birds need.
Mayor Jim Kenney stated this week, “It’s in the Eagles’ best interest to have this go off without a hitch. I’m confident they’ll do that”.
Offensive tackle Jordan Mailata stated that his family and friends cannot travel to the United States to see him play live this year due to restrictions. However, he’s very excited for the arrival of fans. He said, “Mate, I’m excited. It’s been a dream of mine to play in front of the fans”.
Since 2016 when head coach Doug Pederson joined the Eagles, Philadelphia has held the fourth-best home record in the NFL. Despite the hesitancy many fans have to attend due to safety concerns, there are still many prepared for Sunday.
Pederson believes fans will energize the Eagles’ football team. Luckily, we won’t have to wait much longer to find out. The Eagles will host the Ravens at 1 pm on Sunday.