New York’s two Major League Baseball teams, the Yankees and the Mets, will open designated sections for vaccinated supporters and will offer free tickets to encourage fans to get the jab after Governor Andrew Cuomo announced plans to lift attendance limits at large-scale outdoor venues in the state.

From May 19, outdoor venues in New York will only be limited by the space available for fans or parties of fans to maintain the required social distance of six feet. Appropriate social distancing, masks and other applicable health protocols will still apply.

It has also been announced that fully vaccinated fans will be permitted to sit next to each other, instead of six feet apart, in assigned sections reserved for supporters who have been vaccinated. Fans in these sections will be required to provide proof of full immunisation status.

From June 19, New York will begin to pilot reduced social distancing at large-scale indoor event venues in assigned seated sections for fully vaccinated fans. Young adults and children under the age of 16 who are not yet eligible for the vaccine will be allowed to accompany a vaccinated adult in a fully vaccinated section.

The New York State Department of Health will also partner with the Yankees and the Mets to offer vaccinations to fans at games, with both teams to offer free ticket vouchers to locals who get vaccinated at Yankee Stadium or Citi Field.

The Yankees will offer ticket vouchers to the first 1,000 fans who receive their jab on each full day of vaccination operations and to the first 700 fans on each half day of vaccination operations from May 7 to June 6. Vouchers can be redeemed for two seats to select 2021 or 2022 regular-season home games, subject to availability.

The Mets will offer ticket vouchers to the first 250 fans who receive their vaccination at Citi Field on the day of each home game scheduled from May 24 to June 17. Vouchers can be redeemed for two seats to a 2021 or 2022 regular-season game.

Governor Cuomo said: “Our state’s positivity and hospitalisation rates continue to drop and more people are getting vaccinated, so now it’s time to readjust our reopening based on the science and the data.

“The trajectory we are seeing brings us to a point where we can take a major step forward and allow capacity at large-scale outdoor events to only be limited by the space available to maintain the required social distance of six feet, with sections designated solely for fully vaccinated individuals where capacity can be 100%.

“All the arrows are pointed in the right direction, but we can’t lose any of the significant progress we’ve made. We’re going to continue focusing on our vaccination efforts, because the more people vaccinated, the better the situation and the closer we get to defeating COVID once and for all.”

Meanwhile in the NBA, the Atlanta Hawks have announced plans to increase attendance for post-season games to 7,625 fans, around 45% of State Farm Arena’s full capacity, following approval from the league and the Georgia Department of Public Health.

The arena will include a 500-person vaccinated fan section, where supporters with proof of vaccination can be seated without social distancing. Additional lower bowl seating will be added to the east side of the building as plexiglass will be added behind player benches and other areas throughout the venue for additional safety.

The Hawks began the season with no fans before increasing capacity to 1,300 on January 26 and 3,000 for the second half of the season on March 13. Masks will continue to be required for all fans inside the arena following the latest increase.

Image: Matt Hecht