How Philly's new vaccine mandate impacts sporting events

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The City of Philadelphia on Monday announced a new COVID-19 vaccine mandate for indoor dining and drinking starting Jan. 3. The mandate will have a two-week grace period city-wide during which patrons can show recent negative COVID-19 test results, but on Jan. 17 proof of vaccine will be the only acceptable form of entry for indoor dining.

Because the Wells Fargo Center serves food and drink, the mandate applies to Sixers and Flyers home games, the city announced Monday:

The Wells Fargo Center was already requiring attendees to wear masks at Sixers and Flyers games unless actively eating or drinking in accordance with the city's mask mandate. Masks will still be required when not actively eating or drinking.

The Wells Fargo Center announced on its website that the grace period for negative COVID-19 test results at the arena will last one month.

As for Eagles games, the city said the mandate does not apply to outdoor spaces at games. Only indoor spaces at Lincoln Financial Field will be affected:

Philadelphia Health Commissioner Dr. Cheryl Bettigole said in a press briefing on Wednesday that the new vaccine mandate does not apply to players.

"Professional sports players, professional performers, we have separate, very strict protocols," Bettigole said. "Typically they have to get tested the day of, but they aren't included in this vaccine mandate."

Bettigole said that coaches and any staff "who would be in the back areas [...] who supports the team" are also separate.


This policy a notable departure from the policies of New York City, which has a vaccine mandate that extends to players. Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving is currently not playing in NBA games this season because he has thus far refused to get vaccinated, and the Nets aren't willing to let him play only in road games.

The city's announcement comes as Philadelphia has seen a recent uptick in the number of diagnosed COVID-19 cases, NBC10 Philadelphia reports. The city is averaging about 500 cases per day in the first part of December; that's the highest daily number of cases that the city has reported since March of this year.