Texas will soon let outdoor pro sports events have spectators, but the numbers will be limited strictly, under a new order Thursday from Republican Governor Greg Abbott.
Abbott revised a decision to allow pro sports leagues to host events without fans starting in June as part of the state’s strategy to reopen amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.
His new order lets outdoor stadiums host fans up to 25% of their normal capacity. Leagues will have to apply to state health officials in order to be allowed to have fans. Meanwhile, indoor events will still be without spectators.
The change came the same day when Texas reported a one-day high in new cases with 1,855 reported. The state now has 59,776 confirmed cases through about 990,000 viral and novel coronavirus antibody tests. It has 1,601 deaths after a one-day increase of 39 cases.
The actual number of cases may be even far higher since many people haven’t been tested, and studies suggest that people can be infected and not feel sick.
IndyCar is planned to open its season at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth on June 6; however, track president Eddie Gossage said even under the new rule, the Genesys 300 race will not include fans.
The PGA Tour has also previously said it schedules to restart its season at Colonial in Texas on June 11-14 without fans attending.
Major League Baseball has set to start its season in early July at regular-season ballparks – without spectators, if necessary.
However, Abbott’s order might not impact the Texas Rangers and the Houston Astros since health department spokeswoman Lara Anton said that stadiums with retractable roofs are not considered to be outdoors.
Dallas Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy said that he hasn’t given much thought to the idea of playing sports in empty stadiums.
State health officials didn’t respond immediately to questions on if any league or event organizer have asked to be allowed to have fans.
The state has set up some guidelines, including a recommendation that spectators and employees must keep at least 6 feet apart from anyone not from their household. Athletes won’t be required to wear facial masks, but the guidelines encourage them to be worn on the sidelines.