Opening Day at Fenway Park isn’t far off, and now it looks like there will be a few baseball fans in the stands to witness it.
Governor Charlie Baker announced Thursday that the state will reopen major venues on March 22, including the stadiums where Boston’s professional sports teams play: Fenway Park, Gillette Stadium and TD Garden.
The reopening comes as the state plans to move to Phase 4, Step 1 of the plan outlined last spring at the start of the coronavirus pandemic, provided the data continues to show a positive downward trend.
“Inauguration day is in our near future,” Lt. Governor Karyn Polito said at a news conference Thursday.
Applies to venues that can accommodate more than 5,000 people. They are expected to operate at 12 percent of capacity and will be asked to submit a plan to the state department of public health on the precautions that are being implemented.
The announcement came as Baker also removed restrictions on many other companies, which will be able to operate at 50 percent of capacity (compared to 40 percent of current capacity) starting Monday, when the state moves to Phase 3, Step 2.
The decision, reflecting a steady decline in COVID-19 rates in the state in recent weeks, follows New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s decision to reopen such locations in his state this month, with a capacity cap. 10 percent in arenas and stadiums.
The Red Sox open the season at Fenway Park on April 1 against the Orioles. The Celtics’ first home game after March 22 is the 29th, against the Pelicans. The Bruins are scheduled to face the Islanders on March 23 at TD Garden. While the Revolution’s regular season schedule has not been released, the MLS club said Thursday that it is excited to welcome fans when the season begins in mid-April.
What’s yet to be addressed, Baker said Thursday, is how teams will play at venues that also host vaccination sites. Fenway and Gillette were the first open mass vaccination sites in the state.
“They are important players in this vaccine effort,” he said. “We will try to figure that out.”
Baker has kept the large arenas that host the region’s most popular teams closed and kept a tight grip on capacity for events of all sizes since the pandemic hit Massachusetts last March.
Jon Chesto can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @jonchesto. You can reach Katie McInerney at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter at @ k8tmac. You can reach Michael Silverman at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter: @MikeSilvermanBB.