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Attending Sporting Events

Attending Sporting Events

As some communities in the United States re-start sporting events, CDC offers the following considerations for ways in which people who go to a sporting event can slow the spread of COVID-19. These considerations are meant to supplement – not replace – any state, tribal, local, or territorial health and safety laws, rules, and regulations with which the public must comply.

Spectators at sporting events should consider the number of COVID-19 cases both where they live and where the sporting event is taking place before deciding to attend. The higher the transmission of COVID-19 in the community, the higher the risk of transmission of COVID-19 at sporting events.

CDC has not recommended a specific limit on the number of people that are safe to attend a sporting event. People who plan to go to a sporting event should contact the sporting program to find out whether seating arrangements and event logistics allow people to stay at least 6 feet apart and the maximum number of attendees the program will allow.

In general, the number that can attend should allow groups from different households to remain at least 6 feet apart from each other. Rather than focusing on an ideal number, emphasis should be placed on the ability to reduce and limit contact between people. If the safety measures implemented by the sports program do not allow people to remain at least 6 feet apart, people attending sporting events should consider alternate ways of participating in the sporting event. Before attending a sporting event, people who plan on going should learn more about risks involved when deciding to go out.

Guiding principles

Continue to take these steps to reduce your risk of getting and spreading COVID-19:

Even if you and others (including children) do not feel sick and do not have any symptomsyou can still spread COVID-19 to family, friends, and community.

Do NOT be around others if you have been exposed to someone with COVID-19, if you are sick, or if you have tested positive for COVID-19.

Family sitting on a coach with their arms in the air, smiling and laughing, and boy holding a soccer ball.

Consider watching sports at home rather than attending in-person sporting events

People who attend a sporting event can take action to help lower the risk of COVID-19 exposure and reduce the spread while attending sporting events.

The more people someone interacts with, the closer, the longer, and the more frequent the interaction, and the more contact with frequently touched surfaces, the higher the risk of COVID-19 spread. Indoor events pose a greater risk than outdoor events.

The greater the number of sporting events someone attends, the greater the risk of COVID-19 spread. The risk of COVID-19 can be different, depending on the type of sporting event someone attends or the way they participate in the sporting event, as well as the number of COVID-19 cases both where they live and where the sporting event is taking place. The risk of COVID-19 increases for spectators in sporting event settings as follows:

Lowest risk

Watching the sporting event on television or online in your home with members of your household

More risk

Tailgating or attending a sporting event in your local community when

  • The event, including tailgating, is held outdoors
  • All attendees wear masks
  • Attendees are discouraged from yelling, chanting, or singing
  • All attendees stay at least six feet away from people they do not live with
  • Attendees at a community sporting event are from the local area and limited to family and friends of athletes
  • Attendees do not share food or drinks or personal items (e.g., noisemakers) with people they don’t live with
  • The sports program has several mitigation strategies (e.g., blocked off seats or rows, visual cues such as floor markings for social distancing, cleaning and disinfection) and messaging in place to prevent or reduce the spread of COVID-19
Even more risk

Tailgating or attending a sporting event in a nearby community when

  • The event is held in an open, well-ventilated indoor space
  • Most attendees wear masks
  • Attendees yell, chant, and sing while wearing masks
  • Most attendees stay at least six feet way from people they do not live with
  • Attendees are from the local community
  • Attendees limit their sharing of food and personal items (e.g., noisemakers) with others
  • The sports program has a couple of mitigation strategies and messaging in place to prevent or reduce the spread of COVID-19
Highest risk

Traveling to a different geographic area to attend a sporting event or tailgate when

  • The event is held in a confined, poorly ventilated indoor space
  • Attendees do not wear masks
  • Attendees yell, chant, and sing without masks
  • Attendees do not stay at least six feet away from people they do not live with
  • Attendees travel from outside the area to attend the event
  • Attendees freely share their food and personal items (e.g., noisemakers) with people they don’t live with
  • The sports program has no modifications or messaging in place to prevent or reduce the spread of COVID-19

Before the sports event

  • Stay home if you have COVID-19, if you have symptoms of COVID-19, if you are waiting for COVID-19 test results, or may have been exposed to someone with COVID-19.
  • Check with the event organizer or venue for updated information about any COVID-19 mitigation strategies and if they have steps in place to prevent the spread of the virus.
  • Prioritize attending outdoor activities over indoor activities and stay within your local area as much as possible.
  • Bring supplies to help you and others stay healthy—for example, masks (bring extra), hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol, snacks, and drinking water.
  • If you are at an increased risk for severe illness, have an existing medical condition, or need to take extra precautions, consider ways to be a spectator and supporter of sports teams that do not require attendance at a large in-person gathering.
  • If you live with or regularly interact with someone who is at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19 , consider not attending sporting events where social distancing cannot be maintained and where masks are not worn.
  • Take extra precaution if attending a large sporting event in a rural area, as public health and healthcare infrastructure may be limited if an outbreak does occur.
  • Wear masks and take other steps to protect yourself when using public transportation to travel to and from sporting events.

At the sports event

Wear masks

  • Wear a mask when interacting with other people to minimize the risk of transmitting the virus.
  • Wearing masks is most important when social distancing is difficult (e.g., when moving within a crowd or audience).
  • Wear a mask at both indoor and outdoor events where attendees yell, chant, and sing even when social distancing.
  • Some people might not be able to wear a mask because of a disability or medical condition. These people might want to be particularly cautious about attending these events.
  • Masks should NOT be worn by children younger than two, people who have trouble breathing, or people who cannot remove the mask without assistance.

Social distance and limit physical contact

  • Avoid group events, such as games, competitions, or social gatherings, where spacing of at least 6 feet between people cannot be maintained.
  • Maintain a distance of at least 6 feet or more from people who don’t live in your household. Be particularly mindful in areas where it may be harder to keep this distance, such as ticketing and entrance areas, parking lots, restrooms, and routes of entry and exit.
  • Select seating or determine where to stand based on your ability to keep 6 feet of space from people who don’t live in your household.
  • If you have a disability, call or check ahead to ensure accessible seating is provided.
  • If therapy animals are invited to a facility or other setting, follow CDC guidance for service and therapy animals.
  • Avoid using restroom facilities or concession areas at high traffic times, such as intermission, half-time, or immediately after the event.
  • Don’t shake hands, give high-fives, do elbow bumps, or touch others because close contact increases the risk of getting COVID-19.

Limit indoor activities

  • Indoor activities increase the risk of the spread of COVID-19.
  • Avoid attending indoor events, if possible. If not possible, wear a mask and maintain a distance of at least six feet from people you don’t live with. Consider only attending events indoors that have made modifications to improve safety, such as
    • Adding physical barriers between spectators and players that protects from potential respiratory droplets during physical activity
    • Requiring and enforcing mask wearing
    • Discouraging shouting, chanting, singing, and other types of cheering, which can make respiratory droplets travel farther

Wash your hands and limit contact with frequently touched surfaces or shared items

  • Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water or use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol before and after entering the facility and immediately after touching common surfaces such as handrails, doorknobs, countertops, phones, toilets, faucets, sinks, and concession counters.
  • Use cashless payment options when possible. If not available, make sure to wash your hands with soap and water or use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol after transactions with cash or card.
  • Use no-touch waste baskets at the cash registers and in the restrooms whenever possible.

Safely eat and drink at sports events

  • There is no evidence that COVID-19 is spread by food. However, being in close contact to people poses a risk, such as when gathering around food service areas.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol before and after eating and drinking and after using a shared container.
  • Attendees that are able to should wear a mask at all times, except when eating and drinking. Follow mask guidance for safely removing and storing mask.
  • Attendees should bring their own food and drinks, if possible and allowed by the event facility. Do not share food and drinks with others who do not live in your household. Avoid shared drinking fountains if you can.
  • Plan to eat and drink at designated times and not throughout the event, so you can wear a mask as much as possible.
  • When taking off your mask to eat or drink, be sure you are at least 6 feet away from others who don’t live in your household.
  • Eat outside, if possible.
  • Visit concession areas during off-peak times to avoid overcrowding. Stand at least 6 feet apart from others who are not in your household while waiting in line.
  • Wear a mask and keep 6 feet apart when standing in line at concessions.
  • Use single-use condiment packets, and avoid using shared condiment containers, if possible.
  • Use caution if consuming alcohol at a sporting event. Drinking alcohol can impair judgement and increase risk-taking behaviors. People may be less likely to practice COVID-19 preventive behaviors such as social distancing and wearing masks when they drink alcohol.

Safely support the team

  • Masks are strongly encouraged in settings where people might raise their voices, such as shouting, chanting, or singing. When someone raises their voice, their respiratory droplets spread farther.
  • Attendees should consider ways to safely cheer that do not involve shouting, chanting, or singing, such as stomping, clapping, or using handheld noise makers.

Follow guidelines established by the sports program

  • Make sure to follow any rules established by the sports program, such as staggered arrival and drop-off times or other rules to limit contact between different groups of players and fans or spectators.
  • Wait until a previous group has exited the facility completely before entering a facility to attend an event. This allows for regular cleaning of high-touch surfaces and objects.
  • Sports programs are encouraged to limit attendance by non-essential visitors, including families, volunteers, and spectators. If a sports program has made the decision to limit attendance, be sure to follow these rules.

What to do if you become sick during a sports event

  • Organizations that host sporting events should designate an employee or office to be responsible for responding to COVID-19 concerns. If you become sick with COVID-19 symptoms during a sporting event, contact the designated employee or office. Staff at the sporting event will help you identify your next step, which may include safely returning home or going to a healthcare facility.
  • If there is not a designated person at the event, separate yourself from others and move to the identified isolation area, if available. If you need immediate medical attention, call 911 or call ahead to your local emergency facility and notify them that you are seeking care for someone who may have COVID-19. Avoid public transportation, ride-sharing or taxis, if you can.

After the sports event

What to do if you become sick after attending a sports event