Unvaccinated fans must wear face masks at all times at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium
ANNAPOLIS, Md. (Tribune News Service) — Unvaccinated fans attending Navy football home games this fall must wear masks at all times. Meanwhile, even fully vaccinated fans must wear masks in all indoor spaces within Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, Navy Athletic Director Chet Gladchuk announced Wednesday.
Gladchuk said there will be no restrictions on fan attendance, opening the possibility of a sellout crowd for the Sept. 4 home opener against Marshall and the Sept. 11 showdown with service academy rival Air Force.
All fans who are not fully vaccinated and unable to maintain appropriate social distancing (6 feet) are required to wear a mask covering their mouth and nose at all times, according to the new policy established by the Naval Academy Athletic Association.
The NAAA is not requiring proof of vaccination from fans entering Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium and Gladchuk acknowledged this policy is contingent on an honor policy.
"We're setting guidelines and it's no different than any public venue. You're mingling with people on a daily basis that you hope have been responsible. Hopefully, that will be the case with our fans," he said. "I can't control individuals. I can only request that they comply in a manner that is considerate and respectful of others."
Gladchuk believes the vast majority of fans will follow the safety protocols with unvaccinated individuals wearing a mask from the moment they enter the stadium until the moment they leave.
"We're doing our due diligence to impose a sense of responsibility and an environment of trust," he said. "We need to have a dimension of trust and confidence in the fans that they'll do the right thing."
The NAAA set forth the policy amid concerns about rising COVID-19 case numbers due largely to the Delta variant. Several NFL and college stadiums throughout the country, including M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, have mandated the wearing of masks in some form or fashion.
"It's patterned, in many respects, off what we're seeing from other major outdoor venues in the area," Gladchuk said. "It's very similar in the way it's laid out to what the Ravens expect to do at M&T Bank Stadium, which makes sense under these conditions."
Fans who are fully vaccinated and prefer to not wear a mask may do so while in outdoor spaces, such as the stands or concourse area.
Masks are required, regardless of vaccination status, in all indoor spaces at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. That includes restrooms, elevators, the indoor section of the club level in Akerson Tower, inside private suites and on all five floors of the press box.
All game day staff at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium will be required to wear proper personal protection equipment to protect guests, the teams and other staff members. Also, all game day staff will be required to complete a pre-event health screening questionnaire and temperature screening before entering the stadium.
Gladchuk said the new policy put forth by the NAAA was not mandated by the State of Maryland or Anne Arundel County. Last season, local government restrictions prevented fans from attending the Navy football opener against BYU and limited the capacity at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium for the remaining home games.
"It's an approach that we think is reasonable, provides a degree of safety and hopefully will instill some confidence among all our fans," Gladchuk said.
A deep cleaning of Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium will be conducted before and after every event. During the game, there will be a concentration of cleaning in all high touch point areas throughout the stadium.
Anyone with COVID-19 or related symptoms as well as those who have been exposed to the virus should not come to the stadium.
Navy has a total of six home games with the others scheduled for Oct. 2 (Central Florida), Oct. 9 (SMU), Oct. 23 (Cincinnati) and Nov. 20 (East Carolina).
These policies will be evaluated and some or all could be modified as conditions improve both locally and nationally.
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