While Lambeau Field is still closed on gamedays to ticketed fans, Sunday's game between the Packers and the Bears will host a small group of Packers employees and their household family in the stadium bowl to help evaluate COVID-19 protocols that have been implemented.
The team is hopeful that hosting ticketed fans will be possible in the coming weeks, so the small group invited to Sunday's game will be part of the process of evaluating the enhanced protocols for fan attendance. The invited guests – approximately 500 – will model operations such as ingress and egress, concession stand and restroom usage, signage effectiveness and positioning, and distancing of seating pods throughout the stadium bowl.
"We want to ensure that we are ready to host fans if and when that time comes," said Packers President/CEO Mark Murphy. "We have worked closely with Bellin Health and local public health leadership to implement thorough protocols that have been refined over the last few months. These protocols have been successful at other NFL facilities, and we are confident in our operations and that this small group of staff and family members will follow the protocols."
Gameday guests must comply with the new seat policy which requires attendees to remain within their socially distanced household "pod" of seats unless using the restroom or purchasing food or beverages. Other protocols that will be evaluated include the use of mobile tickets as the method of entry, enhanced cleaning measures in the stadium, hand sanitizer stations throughout the concourse, cashless concession locations and required face coverings unless actively eating or drinking. Tailgating in the Lambeau Field parking lots also will be prohibited for Sunday's guests.
The team continues to be guided by recommendations from healthcare partner Bellin Health, as well as officials with Brown County Public Health, and will consult with these colleagues to evaluate a variety of factors for the possibility of hosting fans later in the season.
"Whether you are celebrating the holidays or watching a Packers game, community members can help stop the spread of COVID-19 and save lives by staying home as much as possible, wearing a mask when out in public or around those outside of one's household, washing hands and staying six feet away from others," said Anna Destree, Brown County Public Health Officer. "The protocols in place at Lambeau Field should reinforce to the community the recommended practices we are all advised to follow to mitigate the risk of further spreading the virus when conducting business and everyday activities."
Across the NFL, other teams have been taking a similar graduated approach, beginning by inviting employees and their households to attend and eventually taking the next step to welcome ticketed fans. While COVID-19 cases are trending upward nationally, no local COVID-19 case clusters have been traced to NFL games according to the relevant health departments in NFL cities. Through Week 10, the NFL had a total of 65 games with more than 550,000 fans in attendance.
"Our team has been consulting with the Packers to ensure that they are taking all the necessary precautions in order to have a small group of employees' immediate households in attendance at Sunday's game," said Dr. Michael Landrum, infectious disease specialist with Bellin Health. "We are confident that the precautions in place will prevent further spread of the virus and we hope this will demonstrate that while we may have to make adjustments to coexist with the virus, it is possible to make the necessary changes that will allow us to stop the spread and recover as a community."
The Packers will not host ticketed fans at the Bears or Eagles games. If the team is able to host ticketed fans later this season, season ticket holders who have opted in for the opportunity to purchase tickets will receive instructions about the ticket-purchasing process at a later date.
"If you talk to someone who has lost a loved one to this virus, if you spend time with a healthy person who has been bowled over by it, if you take a minute and listen to an exhausted healthcare worker, you will take the virus seriously," said Murphy. "We are trying to model how good behavior can take us through this time in a safe way. Please have fun watching the game at home. Make nachos, have virtual watch parties and cheer as loudly as you can. But please, let's follow the guidelines from the Brown County and Wisconsin Departments of Health, as well as those from the CDC. Wear masks and stay six feet away from others outside your household. Wash your hands. Let's be smart so that we don't endanger any more loved ones and so that our team can play again in front of the best fans in the NFL."