President of Boston Red Sox Tom Werner told CNBC on Thursday that he doesn’t expect coronavirus outbreaks to significantly change the course of the Major League Baseball season.
Werner’s comments about “Squawk Box” came on opening day, which marks the start of the second MLB season to be played during the pandemic, after last year’s shortened campaign.
“I definitely think we’ve moved beyond where we were six months ago. The protocols in baseball are very strong. The players are taking it into account,” Werner said. “Of course I think there could be an outbreak every now and then, but I think it will be a rare event if some games are cancelled.”
After Werner’s CNBC appearance, the game between the Washington Nationals and New York Mets scheduled for Thursday night was postponed due to concerns over Covid. A Nationals player tested positive for the coronavirus earlier this week, and some teammates are in quarantine after contact tracing.
Some coronavirus protocols could ease for teams this season once a certain vaccination threshold is reached. While not many MLB players have been vaccinated yet, the league expects that number to rise once the teams are back in their home city from spring training, according to The Associated Press.
The 2020 season was postponed months after the pandemic hit the US, but a 60-game schedule finally kicked off in July. Dozens of games eventually postponed during the season due to Covid cases, though progressed to the playoffs as planned, and the Los Angeles Dodgers won the World Series in late October.
This year, the 162 game schedule is back—and so are baseball field fans. Last year, regular season games were played in empty stadiums. A limited number of spectators were may attend some playoff games in the fall.
To kick off the season, capacity at the Red Sox’s historic home, Fenway Park, is capped at 12%, which equates to just over 4,500 fans. according to NBC Boston.
Werner said he hopes this number will only increase in the coming months as more Americas get vaccinated against Covid.
“I certainly don’t have a crystal ball, but we hope the vaccine rollout continues quickly and I certainly hope the stadiums will be at full capacity by the end of the season,” he said. said.
About 29% of the US population has received at least one dose of Covid vaccine, according to Wednesday data compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That includes about 16% of the country’s population who are fully vaccinated.
The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require two doses for complete immunity protection, while the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is a single injection. Those are the only three vaccines approved for emergency use in the US