As the COVID-19 vaccine continues to be distributed across the U.S., Major League Baseball organizations and local governments continue to discuss and question whether fans should be allowed at games this season.
Nationals pitcher Max Scherzer spoke to media on Friday and said he doesn't see why fans can't be in the stands this upcoming season.
“Fans should be in the stands, 100%. You can do it, we’re in outdoor stadiums. Fans just need to be allowed to come in the ballpark,” Scherzer said. "So hopefully cooler heads prevail, we look at this pragmatically and we get some Nationals fans out there because trust me, as all ballplayers, we definitely miss them and we miss the atmosphere that they bring.”
Scherzer spoke with NBC Sports Washington in December ahead of the upcoming season about how fan attendance might work and looked to the NFL for comparison.
He said many NFL teams were able to open their stadiums to fans in a limited capacity during its 2020 season because of the open-air nature, similar to most baseball stadiums.
Scherzer said he feels that there are ways teams can enforce protocols that limit the potential for the virus to spread, even for closed-roof ballparks are much larger than indoor arenas.
“But even from the beginning, even from spring training we can start talking about how we can get fans into the stands and engineer ways to mitigate any type of spread,” Scherzer said in December. “But if you’re outside and you’re following the rules, there’s no reason for me to sit here and say fans can’t be in the stands.”
The Nationals have yet to announce any official plans concerning fan attendance at Nationals Park for the 2021 season.
The team, like many other MLB organizations, will consult with local health officials and make a decision in accordance with local guidelines.
The Miami Marlins announced limited crowds would be permitted at home games, ESPN reports.
"We look forward to having the opportunity to have fans come back to our ballpark," CEO Derek Jeter said Monday. "There will be a limited number of fans that are allowed at the onset. We hope those numbers increase throughout the course of the season, but the most important thing for us is to make sure everyone is healthy and safe."
The MLB did not allow fans during the 2020 regular season due to COVID-19 safety precautions, and limited crowds were permitted for the postseason. ESPN reports limited crowds will be permitted for spring training games in Florida and Arizona.