ASHBURN — The Washington Football Team introduced a new set of guidelines Wednesday for fans attending games at FedEx Field this upcoming season — announcing face masks will be “recommended” for unvaccinated individuals, while banning fans from wearing American Indian-inspired headdresses and face paint.
The changes come after a year in which the Burgundy-and-Gold played mostly without fans due to the pandemic. The team had said it planned to allow full capacity in 2021, but had waited to provide details on whether aspects like proof of vaccination would be mandatory.
Washington’s release notes that unvaccinated fans will be allowed to attend games. Masks are only recommended, which follows Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan’s comments this week in which he said he would not reinstate the state’s mandatory mask policy as coronavirus cases continue to climb nationwide with the Delta variant spreading.
The team said in a press release that the mask guidelines may change based on updates “consistent with applicable local regulations and/or FedExField policy.”
The most significant change to the team’s policies is the banning of imagery long deemed offensive to American Indian communities. The banning of headdresses and face paint follows the team’s name change — abandoning the moniker “Redskins.”
Fans, it appears, will be allowed to wear old Redskins gear. Team President Jason Wright previously told The Washington Times that no decision had been made whether people could show up to FedEx Field in Redskins memorabilia. He also said that the team’s new name would make no reference to American Indian imagery.
“We are excited to welcome everyone back wearing their Burgundy & Gold,” the team said in a statement. “However, Native American inspired ceremonial headdresses or face paint may no longer be worn into the stadium.”
Across sports, other teams with American Indian imagery like the NFL’s Kansas City Chiefs and NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks have taken similar measures.
As part of the announcement, Washington noted that tailgating will be permitted in 2021 — a year after it was banned because of the pandemic. Some policies, however, are here to stay: Workers at concession stands will no longer take cash payment for food and beverage options. Payment must be made with a credit or debit card, or the person’s mobile device.
Washington’s home opener isn’t until Sept. 12, when the team starts the season against the Los Angeles Chargers.
However, 25,000 fans are permitted to attend the team’s practice Friday at FedEx Field at 7 p.m. The team’s new entertainment program — i.e., cheerleaders — will take the field for a performance an hour earlier, while gates open at 5:30 p.m.