NFL inviting 7,500 health care 'heroes' to Super Bowl

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Los Angeles (AFP)

The NFL is inviting roughly 7,500 health care workers vaccinated against Covid-19 to attend next month's Super Bowl in Florida, the league confirmed in a statement on Friday.

NFL Commissioner said the workers -- mostly from hospitals and health care centres in Tampa and Florida -- were being invited in recognition of their service during the pandemic.

In addition, all 32 NFL teams will invite a small number of vaccinated healthcare workers from their respective markets to attend the February 7 showpiece at Tampa Bay's Raymond James Stadium.

"These dedicated health care workers continue to put their own lives at risk to serve others, and we owe them our ongoing gratitude," Goodell said in a statement.

"We hope in a small way that this initiative will inspire our country and recognize these true American heroes. This is also an opportunity to promote the importance of vaccination and appropriate health practices, including wearing masks in public settings."

The invited healthcare workers will join an additional 14,500 fans due to be in attendance at the Super Bowl, which is taking place against the backdrop of a nationwide coronavirus crisis.

The NFL has dramatically reduced capacity for the championship game after a season where many teams have played in empty stadiums due to Covid-19.

The NFL said Friday that its plans for spectators at the Super Bowl had been drawn up in consultation with public health officials including the Centers for Disease Control, the Florida Department of Health and local hospitals and health care systems.

"These officials reviewed and provided feedback on the NFL's comprehensive plans that will enable the league to host fans and the vaccinated health care workers in a safe and responsible way," a statement said.

The statement said fans would be subjected to rigorous Covid-19 protocols which included mandatory mask-wearing, social-distancing, and other measures such as "podded seating" and touchless concessions, restrooms, and security checkpoints.