When the Las Vegas Raiders kick off their NFL season next month, the team wants its home stadium to look as normal as possible, with stands full of fans. There's just one catch: To get in, every spectator will have to show proof they've gotten a COVID-19 vaccine. Anyone who hasn't can still enter — after they get a shot at Allegiant Stadium.
Vaccinated fans won't be required to wear masks
Spectators will be required to show proof of their vaccination status on a mobile app with a "health pass" feature, the Raiders organization said. If they do so, they can attend games without wearing a face mask.
Fans who have opted to get a vaccine shot just before entering the stadium will have to wear a mask due to the lag time for the vaccines to take full effect.
The Raiders' rules will be in effect for the team's first regular season home game — a Monday Night Football matchup with the Baltimore Ravens on Sept. 13.
The CDC says even vaccinated people should wear masks
The Raiders unveiled their new policy late Monday after Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak announced a shift in his recent mask mandate that opens the door for large-scale venues to hold mask-free events if all guests are vaccinated.
"This is cutting edge. There's no other venues in the country that are doing this," Sisolak said, adding he hopes people feel reassured about attending an event where everyone is vaccinated.
In late July, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its guidance on masks, stating: "If you are fully vaccinated, to maximize protection from the Delta variant and prevent possibly spreading it to others, wear a mask indoors in public if you are in an area of substantial or high transmission."
The agency's website currently lists Clark County, Nev. — home to Allegiant Stadium — as a place where the level of community transmission is high.
NFL says teams form their own policies on vaccines
The Raiders say their vaccine rule reflects Sisolak's latest policies on holding large events. The team was already requiring vaccines for all employees — a move it says was mirrored by stadium and concessions operators.
The NFL says it's not considering a league-wide policy on vaccination, allowing teams to coordinate with local officials and health experts as well as follow federal guidelines.
"We are planning on full stadiums across the league this year but will remain flexible and adaptable as necessary," NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy told NPR. "Like last season, there may be different fan experiences, depending on the current situation in the local markets working in conjunction with public health authorities."
What are other NFL teams doing?
The Raiders say their new rule makes them "the first team in the National Football League to announce a vaccine/no mask policy."
But they're not the first team to announce an attendance policy linked to vaccines: Last week, the New Orleans Saints said the Superdome will be open to spectators at full capacity for the first time in more than a year and a half.
Citing new local policies from New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell, the team added that fans who want to attend home games must show either proof of vaccination or the negative results of a coronavirus test taken within 72 hours before game time.
The mayor's policy applies to all events at the Superdome, along with restaurants, bars and other congregating spots.
Both Cantrell and Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards have issued indoor mask mandates for everyone age 5 and older — another policy that the Saints and their fans will follow.