NBC News- The Big Game is right around the corner, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is advising that football fans keep their celebrations small this year to avoid the spread of COVID-19.
In addition to recommending that people wear masks, maintain social distancing and avoid seeing people outside their households, the CDC recommends hosting gatherings outdoors if possible and minimizing the amount of people you see.
If you're celebrating at home, the CDC suggests hosting a virtual watch party or outdoor viewing party. With a virtual watch party, you can start a text group or set up a video call with other spectators, and share recipes for appetizers or snacks so that everyone has the same food options.
If you live in an area where an outdoor party is an option, make sure to sit at least six feet apart from people you don't live with. Being outdoors is safer than gathering indoors, but since parts of the country have been blanketed with record snowfall and the cold weather is expected to continue, that may not be an option everywhere.
The CDC also issued guidance on what to do if you are attending the Big Game. There are only a limited number of tickets available to the game, including 7,500 vaccinated healthcare workers. In total, 22,000 fans will be in the Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida, about 33% of its capacity. Previous games in the season allowed for 25% capacity.
"Attending large gatherings like the [Big Game] increases your risk of getting and spreading COVID-19," said the CDC, advising people to stay home with their household members if possible.
The guidance for people attending the game or other large gatherings is similar to guidance for any other large events: The CDC recommends ensuring that the venue has appropriate safeguards in place to prevent the spread of the virus, following signage to allow for social distancing, and arriving early to avoid crowding and congestion while getting to your seat. Avoid using bathrooms or concession areas at high traffic times, like half-time or the end of the game, and minimize time spent in such areas.
According to Forbes, the National Football League (NFL) has consulted with medical experts, event planning specialists and local officials to develop a plan to "try to effectively manage crowds of that size at the game and (at) some festivities around it."
The CDC also recommends avoiding "chanting or cheering," activities that can cause droplets to spread further than six feet. Instead, try stomping, clapping, or using hand-held noisemakers to support your favorite teams instead. Masks should be worn at all times.