California's Major League Baseball teams will be permitted to host a limited number of fans in their ballparks by Opening Day, the state announced on Friday, provided they meet certain requirements.
The San Diego Padres, Los Angeles Angels, Los Angeles Dodgers, San Francisco Giants and Oakland Athletics immediately welcomed the announcement:
The Angels, Padres and A's are all scheduled to open their seasons at home on April 1.
The news also means fans will be able to see the defending champions take the field at Dodger Stadium for the first time since winning the World Series last November.
"Today's announcement is focused on building in some of the compelling science about how the virus behaves, and how activities when done a certain way can reduce risk," California's top health official, Dr. Mark Ghaly said.
The announcement comes as the state continues to see a decline in both COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations amid a massive vaccination campaign, per the Associated Press' Adam Beam and Kathleen Ronayne:
"California divides its counties into four color-coded tiers based on the spread of the virus. The purple tier is the most restrictive, followed by red, orange and yellow. Attendance limits are based on what tier a county is in.
"Theme parks can open in the red tier at 15% capacity and only people who live in California can buy tickets. Attendance limits increase to 25% in the orange tier and 35% in the yellow tier. Indoor rides are allowed because they are short and allow for proper spacing.
"... Outdoor sports are limited to 100 people in the purple tier. Those limits increase to 20% capacity in the red tier, 33% in the orange tier and 67% in the yellow tier. Teams can sell tickets regionally in the purple tier and statewide in the other tiers. No concessions are allowed in the purple tier. In other tiers, concessions will be limited to in-seat purchases."
After baseball returned following a delay to the start of the season because of the COVID-19 pandemic, fans were replaced by cardboard cutouts in stadiums across the country.
Limited numbers of fans have been permitted at various spring training games. Fans are expected back at many ballparks in the league for the regular season, and that group now includes California teams.