Thousands of baseball fans returned to Yankee Stadium on Thursday to root, root, root for the home team on Opening Day — the first time they have been allowed in since the 2019 season because of the coronavirus pandemic.
They faced a slew of COVID-19 restrictions like mandated face-coverings, socially distanced seating, proof of a negative coronavirus test or full vaccination, temperature checks and capacity limitations — but were still thrilled to cheer the Bronx Bombers in person.
“We got tested [for the coronavirus] Tuesday, results came back at 2 a.m. this morning. I was not missing this!” said Gary Von Stange, 64, ahead of the game between the Yankees and the Toronto Blue Jays.
Stange, who flew to New York from St. Petersburg, Florida to attend his 52nd home opener at Yankee Stadium added, “This is even more important with the pandemic on Opening Day, hope springs eternal and everyone starts all over.”
Connecticut resident Scott Petersen, 43, surprised his 9-year-old son, Kyle, Thursday morning and pulled him out of school to attend the ball game.
“Especially now, kids need to get out,” Petersen said, explaining that he and his son got tested for COVID-19 at an urgent care facility in Danbury, Conn., before the game.
“I don’t care,” the dad said. “It’s worth it to get back to normalcy.”
Joe Hall, 26, of Manhattan echoed those remarks.
“I’m ready to go! Not just baseball, things getting back to normal and this is just the start of it,” Hall said.
Sports and entertainment events at major New York stadiums and arenas were permitted to reopen in February with limited capacity.
Under the restrictions, venues with at least a 10,000-person capacity were allowed to reopen with a 10 percent capacity limit.
Fans are required to show a negative COVID-19 PCR test within 72 hours of an event in order to enter.
At Yankee Stadium on Thursday fans were also allowed in by showing a valid COVID-19 vaccination record card.
In early February, Yankee Stadium opened as a coronavirus vaccination mega-facility.