BALTIMORE, Md. (WDVM) — As the world of sports is slowly returning to some sort of normalcy by allowing fans back into their stadiums like Camden Yards, the Baltimore Orioles are now offering another COVID safety precaution for fans attending home games.
The Baltimore Orioles will be offering free COVID tests before and during all home games. The O’s are participating in a pilot program in partnership with the Maryland Department of Health in an effort to create community-focused COVID-19 testing opportunities.
Greg Bader, Senior Vice President of Administration & Experience for the Orioles, explained that the program is a way to normalize testing in everyday life and will not be a requirement to enter the stadium.
“This service is for ticketed patrons who are feeling healthy, wanting to come to the game, and while they’re here, at some point while they’re here, they can get tested,” Bader stated. “It was not, as far as needing to use it as a requirement to actually access, but as part of an ongoing program that the state and the CDC at the federal level want to implement to get people used to being tested just you know in the course of their daily lives.”
For some, Sunday’s game against the Oakland Athletics was their first or second game back at Camden Yards since the park reopened to fans on April 8, but for many, it’s been over a year. The last time fans were allowed in the stands was on September 29, 2019, when the O’s played the Boston Red Sox.
Tim Hughes and Greg Donofrio were more than excited to be able to head back into the ballpark. Hughes explained it was his first time back in the park in over a year.
“I’m very excited, yes! First time back since early 2019. So I’m definitely pumped for the first game,” Hughes said. “Especially last year, it was hard to watch the game with no fans. So even just watching a game on TV, it’s nice to have real people in the stands.”
Meghan Depasquale attended Sunday’s game with her two sons and her brother. She explained the reopening of the stadium has allowed her to spend one-on-one with her two children and feels safe doing so.
“I feel comfortable. My kids have been going to school full time. I feel comfortable taking them to public places.”
While some were excited to return to the stands, one fan believes if people are worried about contracting coronavirus, they should enjoy the game from home.
“My thing is, is just let people do what they want,” Jesse Mcelree said. “If they want to go out to the game, let them go out to the game. If they’re worried about getting COVID, just stay away. It’s not that hard.”
Just next door, M&T Bank Stadium is serving as a state-run mass vaccination clinic and the announcement to offer testing at Camden Yards comes after the state of Maryland announced a 43% drop in new COVID cases over the last week.
Camden Yards is currently operating at 25% capacity and fans must follow all COVID safety procedures while inside like wearing masks and adhering to social distancing guidelines.
Vaccination registration resources will also be available at the COVID testing kiosk in the stadium.