Citi Field and Yankee Stadium in New York will start to have separate sections for people who have received the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccine. Fans who have received a vaccine will be seated in a separate section with less restrictions than those who have not.
The segregation is expected to begin on May 19. Vaccinated people will have to prove their status through an official vaccination record card or through New York’s Excelsior Pass on their smartphone. The Excelsior Pass app was tested in early 2020 for National Basketball Association (NBA) and National Hockey League (NHL) games, and was first used officially in March.
The unvaccinated sections will be operating with social distancing restrictions, only seating 33 percent of their capacity. The vaccinated sections will operate at full capacity, but masks will be required for everyone attending the event.
“So if you’re vaccinated, that’s one category. You’re un-vaccinated, that’s another category, no testing. But if you’re vaccinated, you have the Excelsior Pass, you have proof of vaccination and that will determine where you sit,” said New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo at a press briefing on May 5.
Cuomo also announced a promotional program offered by the Yankees and Mets, which will offer a free ticket to those who get vaccinated at the stadium prior to or during a game.
“If you get a vaccine, they will give you a free ticket to the game. Next time you go to the game and you’re vaccinated, you can enjoy the game sitting next to your friends, sitting next to your family which to me is a big part, part of the enjoyment of the game. We call that a New York home run. It’s smart, it recognizes the civic responsibility of all of us,” said Cuomo.
Mets President Sandy Alderson said that they are currently vaccinating 2,000 people per day at Citi Field and are trying to develop a drive-thru lane to further boost vaccination efforts.
“Basically, you come to the game… you take a vaccine shot, you get a voucher. You can go to that game. If that game’s sold out, you can go… tomorrow night and go to a game of your choice,” said Randy Levine, President of the Yankees.
After the 2020 Major League Baseball (MLB) season got off to a late start, the regular schedule was shortened from 162 games to 60 games with empty stadiums. For 2021, the season will return to a regular schedule that runs from April 1 to October 3, and teams will not be restricted from traveling around the country. The MLB has agreed to relax some of its health and safety protocols if a team gets 85 percent of their players, coaches, trainers, and others vaccinated.
“Each of the 30 teams is announcing plans regarding attendance as the season progresses, something that depends on evolving local policies and restrictions. Therefore, some markets are able to have higher capacities than others,” according to the MLB website.
Despite the fact that the Yankees recently reached the 85 percent vaccination threshold for loosened health and safety protocols, it was announced on May 13 that seven Yankee coaching or support staff and shortstop Gleyber Torres, who had all been vaccinated with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, tested positive for COVID-19.
“While there have been anecdotal reports of New Yorkers who have had a positive COVID test 14 or more days after receiving their last vaccine dose, DOH is investigating those cases along with the ones linked to the Yankees further to determine if they meet the formal CDC definition of vaccine breakthrough,” the New York State Department of Health said a statement.