If fans are going to be permitted into ballparks during Major League Baseball’s 2021 season, they won’t be mandated by the league to do much.
Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times first reported on Monday night that there is no plan to require fans to provide proof of a COVID-19 vaccination or a negative test result before entering stadiums.
The memo from the league to its teams — which was obtained by Shakin — stated that it would have “minimum health and safety standards,” with stricter enforcements being left to individual state and local authorities. Though he did add that “all policies are subject to change as the public health situation in the United States changes.” According to the New York Times, cases have been rising steadily since September with an average of 250,721 cases per day this week.
“Mass testing of this kind is not practical with the existing rapid testing options and testing is of limited ability when done days in advance of an event,” the memo read. “Clubs retain discretion in this area and may choose to require fans — or a subset of fans, such as suite holders — to test, but barring any major advancement in testing technology, the commissioner’s office will not mandate any form of testing for fans.’’
A source with knowledge of the New York Mets’ front office told amNewYork Metro that the team is in a “wait-and-see” mode, adding that they are gathering information from MLB, state, and local officials before coming to a decision on whether or not fans will be allowed inside Citi Field this season.
Governor Andrew Cuomo’s office did not return AMNY’s inquiry for comment on the matter at the time of this article’s publishing.
The governor recently allowed New York sports fans into playoff games of the NFL’s Buffalo Bills — the first on Saturday in a victory over the Indianapolis Colts, and an upcoming Divisional Round matchup against the Baltimore Ravens this weekend. In total, approximately 6,700 fans who have proof of a negative COVID test are allowed in the stadium that normally seats 71,870.
MLB will require fans to wear masks at all times except when eating and drinking at their seats, enforce social distancing in lines outside and inside the park, and pod seating — which ensures groups stay six feet apart.
The league is coming off a 2020 season in which fans were not permitted to attend regular-season ballgames, which played a major role in the league and its teams losing a combined $3 billion.
A limited number of fans were allowed in Globe Life Field in Arlington, TX for the NLCS and World Series, but even then, temperature checks were not required.
Getting fans back in the park will allow teams to start making a bit more revenue after a trying season, whether it comes in the form of ticket sales along with parking, concessions, and merchandise at the stadium.