LOS ANGELES (CNS) - Fans returned to Staples Center for the first time in more than a year Thursday, with a crowd announced at 1,915 watching the Los Angeles Lakers lose to the Boston Celtics, 121-113.
"I know it's not full capacity where we want to be but it was great to have our fans back watching us and cheering us on," coach Frank Vogel said.
"It just gave us a different level of energy and juice. Hopefully it continues to grow."
The state and Los Angeles County have both eased COVID-19 restrictions to again allow spectators at indoor events, beginning Thursday. The Lakers were the first major Southland sports franchise to reap the benefits of the change.
However, attendance will remain strictly limited, and fans who got into the arena had to adhere to a host of rules -- and had to prove they are either fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or have had a negative coronavirus test within 72 hours of tip-off.
A person is not considered fully vaccinated until two weeks after receiving the second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, or two weeks after receiving the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
The game was the Lakers' first at Staples Center with fans since March 10, 2020, when they lost to the Brooklyn Nets 104-102 before a capacity crowd of 18,997.
Because Staples Center is requiring fans to show proof of vaccination or a recent negative COVID test, the arena is permitted to admit a larger number of fans.
On Monday, county Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said the county would impose a 25% cap on capacity on large arenas such as Staples Center -- stricter than the state's 35% guideline.
But Ferrer said Wednesday the county is "fully adhering to the state capacity limits."
If the arena were not requiring proof of testing or vaccination,
capacity would be limited to 10%.
State and county rules limit attendance to in-state residents only.
Fans also needed to adhere to various other restrictions:
-- All fans must have digital tickets on their mobile device.
-- Everyone over age 2 was required to wear a face covering at all
times, except when eating or drinking in a designated area. Neck gaiters,
bandanas and masks with exhalation vents are prohibited. A face shield is not a
substitute for an actual mask. People unable to wear a proper face covering
were not be admitted.
-- No bags of any kind were permitted, including clear bags. Medical
and child-care bags were permitted, but were X-rayed upon entry. Rental lockers
were available outside the arena for people to store non-permitted bags.
-- Six feet of physical distancing must be from other groups was
required at all times. Spacing markers were installed at the arena and fans
were seated away from others.
-- All transactions were cashless, requiring fans to use credit or
debit cards or contactless mobile payment methods. For people without cards,
"cash-to-card" kiosks were located in the arena.
-- Food and drink must be ordered on a mobile device by scanning the
QR codes located at the concession stand or at seats. Fans received a text
message when their order was ready for pickup. No outside food or beverages
were permitted, except for a single sealed, plastic water bottle, 1 liter or
-- Eating and drinking must be done in designated areas, not in seats.
The same restrictions will be in place for all Staples Center events,
including Clippers and Kings games.
Similar rules will also be in place at other indoor venues, as the
state and county again allow attendance at other events starting Thursday, such
as theater performances, concerts and conferences.
For smaller indoor venues that hold up to 1,500 people, capacity is
limited to a maximum of 15%, or 200 people, whichever is smaller. The capacity
can increase to 35% if everyone has proof of a negative COVID test or of being
For private events such as meetings, receptions or conferences,
outdoor gatherings can be held with 100 people, or up to 300 if everyone is
Indoor activities are permitted only if all guests are vaccinated or
tested, and attendance is limited to a maximum of 150 people.
For informal private social gatherings, the new rules allow outdoor
gatherings of up to 50 people, with required masking and physical distancing.
Indoor social gatherings are "strongly discouraged," but can be held
with a maximum of 25 people or 25% of the venue's capacity, whichever is
lower, with required masks and no eating or drinking unless everyone attending
has been vaccinated.