This week, Michigan governor Gretchen Whitmer announced plans that will effectively lift all capacity limitations caused by the COVID-19 pandemic by July 1. Starting on June 1, all outdoor venues, including parks, outdoor concerts, and stadiums, will be permitted to be at 100 percent capacity again. A month later on July 1, indoor venues, including restaurants, movie theaters, and indoor stadiums, will also be allowed to have full capacity.
“We will be able to sing at church, dance at weddings, cheer at games, hug each other, and laugh together,” Whitmer said on Thursday.
This obviously paves the way for Ford Field to, again, be packed with Detroit Lions fans this summer. Last year, the Lions did not host any fans to start the season, and slowly worked their way to allowing a group of around 500 select family members and friends of the team inside the building on gameday.
“With health and safety being the top priority, this is an opportunity to further evaluate new stadium protocols on a larger scale,” Lions team president Rod Wood said last October. “We continue to collaborate with local, state, and national health officials on increasing capacity for our remaining home games.”
Under the state’s new plan, individual venues are still capable of having their own rules regarding attendance, including capacity restrictions, mask mandates, or proof of vaccination. We’ve already seen some professional sports teams require proof of vaccination and capacity limits, many of those restrictions have been lifted in recent months.
It’s important to note, too, that the July 1 indoor restriction lift remains a goal not set in stone. As we’ve learned over the past year, the trajectory of this pandemic is not always down, and plans change. With outdoor venues opening up without restrictions shortly, the spread of the virus will be tracked closely. With Michigan already considered one of the 10 worst COVID hot spots according to the Detroit Free Press, nothing is guaranteed.
The Lions have yet to comment on plans for games this year. However, with the way things are trending, we may not only get full attendance in Ford Field this year but training camp—just two months away—could also feature fans again this year.