BATON ROUGE, La. – Citing the “significant threat” posed by the coronavirus, the Louisiana State University athletics department on Tuesday became the first Southeastern Conference school to mandate proof of COVID-19 vaccination or negative COVID-19 test results to gain entry to its football stadium.
The announcement comes less than two weeks before the LSU Tigers kick off the 2021 football season against UCLA on Sept. 4 in Los Angeles. Meanwhile, the Tigers’ home opener is slated for Sept. 11 against McNeese State at Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge.
Tiger Stadium holds slightly more than 102,000 people.
By Tuesday morning, Louisiana had confirmed nearly 661,000 cumulative COVID-19 cases, resulting in nearly 12,000 deaths. Those figures include nearly 11,000 new infections reported Monday, when the statewide 7-day average for new cases totaled 4,665, according to The New York Times.
The COVID-19 stadium protocols apply to all guests 12 years of age and older, and the only tests accepted will be negative PCR tests taken within 72 hours of requesting entry to the stadium, the athletic department stated, noting the decision included input from Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards, LSU President William F. Tate IV, LSU’s Board of Supervisors, Tiger Athletic Foundation and Director of Athletics Scott Woodward.
Tate said that the state’s flagship institution’s “foremost responsibility” remains ensuring the safety of students, supporters and the community at large.
“While we are aware of the diverse perspectives across the nation regarding masks and vaccinations, we must take all reasonable measures to protect our campus and community, not only on gamedays, but long after guests have left Tiger Stadium. The current threat to our lives, our health, and to our medical systems due to COVID-19 is overburdening our hospitals, and we must do our part to stop the spread,” Tate stated.
Specifically, the protocols require all guests 12 and older to show proof of at least one dose of a federally- or World Health Organization-approved COVID-19 vaccine. Accepted forms of proof include a vaccination card, a photo or photocopy of a vaccination card or “verified digital proof of vaccination,” including LA Wallet or another government-sanctioned mobile app.
In addition, guests younger than 12 will not be required to present negative test results, but masks are encouraged for children younger than 5 and required for those ages 5 to 11, the department stated.
“When our fans arrive on Saturdays to cheer on the Tigers, they will have confidence that we have taken measures to mitigate their health risks. Our football team has reached 99.1% vaccination, and we are incredibly proud of them for doing their part to protect their team and their community. We are confident our fans will do the same, and I encourage all Tiger fans to receive vaccinations today,” Woodward stated.
A list of Louisiana vaccination sites is available at www.ldh.la.gov.
More coronavirus pandemic coverage: