Half of all NHL teams have already opened up their arenas to some fans. Now, the Washington Capitals may join them.
On Monday, Washington DC mayor Muriel Bowser announced that the district is looking to scuttle some restrictions on businesses. The Washington Post’s Julie Zauzmer reported that included “attendance at professional sports games.”
Meanwhile, Bowser said she's looking at lifting some virus-related restrictions on businesses — possibly including attendance at professional sports games — in mid-March. "Our expectation is that we’ll have some loosening now and even more later."
— Julie Zauzmer (@JulieZauzmer) March 8, 2021
The Washington Capitals played in front of fans for the first time on Sunday against the Philadelphia Flyers. The Flyers recently became the 16th franchise to have some fans at a game during the coronavirus pandemic, allowing 15 percent capacity at Wells Fargo Center.
“It was great,” John Carlson said. “It’s kind of felt almost weird out there. I’m tired of the crowd noise. I like to hear some booing and some cheering and the normal things that go in an NHL game. Even though it’s not a packed house — it shouldn’t be — it means a lot to the players. It feels a lot more natural to us.”
While positive cases and deaths have fallen over the last two months, several new variants of COVID-19 are spreading and could result in a fourth wave.
Total reported cases rose across the globe in the last week of February after six weeks of decline, driven in part by new, more virulent variants that transmit between people at startlingly higher rates than the initial strains out of Wuhan, China, and northern Italy.
The United States recorded about 66,000 new cases a day over the last week, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), down 73 percent from the apex reached in early January and similar to levels of transmission from October. But the precipitous decline of late January and early February has plateaued in recent days, raising fears that a new wave is just around the corner.
The CDC has recommended against aggressively loosening restrictions as Americans get vaccinated across the country.
“Things are tenuous. Now is not the time to relax restrictions,” CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said according to Yahoo. “We cannot get comfortable or give in to a false sense of security that the worst of the pandemic is behind us.”
Fans have not been at Capital One Arena for a hockey game since March 4, 2020 – a 5-2 loss to the Flyers.
Headline photo: Ian Oland/RMNB
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