As Staples Center reopens to fans, new rules include no food at seats

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Indoor professional sports with fans is back in Los Angeles, starting Thursday when the Lakers take on the Celtics

Following that, the Clippers and Kings will play in front of fans for the first time in over a year.

The pandemic has brought major changes to the arena including a reduced capacity of roughly 2,000 fans on the first night.

"We did an A-to-Z audit of the venue. We looked to take out everything that you could put a touch on. Everything that you could come in contact with and improve that. We went cashless. We went all digital," said Lee Zeidman, president of the Microsoft Theater and LA Live.

"We're 100% mobile ticketing so we want to make sure they have all their tickets on their phones ready to go. Their phone is well charged before they leave. We want to make sure they leave their bags at home. Only bring what fits in your pocket so we can have a contactless security screening," said Danielle Snyder, senior vice president of guest services and security at Staples Center.

And to get in, Staples Center has some of the toughest COVID-19 protocols in the country. You'll need to either show your vaccine card and be two weeks past your final shot or show a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours of the event.

But that's not all.

Since the arena is indoors, you won't be able to eat in your seat because your mask will have to remain on.

"Everything's going to be online in a mobile app. There's QR codes on your seats, on our signage, all over the building. It's a very simple process. You can sign up for text notifications. Go to your seat, watch the game. If your order's ready, it will tell you when to pick it up," Sam Porter, senior director of operations at LEVY Restaurants.

Because you're not allowed to eat in your seat, the rules for exit and entry at Staples Center have changed. You can exit during a game to enjoy Chick Hearn Court, which will be an outdoor eating area featuring food trucks and other items for purchase.

Staples Center now has outdoor dining and the expanded perimeter will allow for plenty of distancing when those masks come off to eat.

"I certainly understand people who are hesitant wanting to come back to mass gatherings," Zeidman said. "We're following the state guidelines. We're following the NBA and NHL guidelines. We have made major changes to the building to make you safe."

County health officials have suggested fans try to avoid cheering loudly to prevent potentially spreading the virus.

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