The San Francisco Giants and the Los Angeles Dodgers are taking an important next step with regards to allowing fans into their ballparks, removing social distancing protocols within specific sections that will be populated by people who are fully vaccinated.
The Giants began designating select seating groups when their second homestand began on Thursday, and the Dodgers will experiment with the idea for Saturday's game against the San Diego Padres. The Padres became the first California team to implement a similar concept during their prior homestand, when they opened certain sections at 67% capacity for fans who were either fully vaccinated -- two weeks removed from their final vaccine dose -- or received a negative COVID-19 test within a 72-hour period.
The Padres accepted either of the two for fans 13 and older. The Dodgers and Giants, who will be closer to full capacity within those designated sections, require full vaccination for fans 16 and older and a negative COVID-19 test for those between the ages of 2 and 15.
California's latest seven-day coronavirus case rate, of 40.3 per 100,000 people, is the lowest in the continental United States and significantly lower than the nationwide rate of 135.3. The latest announcement by Major League Baseball and the MLB Players' Association stated that there were eight new positive tests among the 12,458 conducted over the last week, a positivity rate of 0.06%. Among the 123,770 tests conducted this season, 39 -- consisting of 23 players and 16 staff members -- have come back positive.
The Dodgers, major league leaders in attendance every year from 2013 to 2019, will open up two sections in their Loge level that will not require social distancing and will accommodate roughly 500 fans on Saturday. The team considers this a trial run. It will open a gate in right field specifically for those fans and, like the Giants and Padres, will still require masks in those sections.
The Giants are one of three teams -- along with the New York Yankees and the New York Mets -- who require a negative COVID-19 test to enter their ballpark. For their second homestand of the 2021 season, they identified an additional 1,000 seats spread throughout the ballpark that can seat people close together so long as those over the age of 15 show proof of full vaccination.
The additional seats make up a handful of different seating groups throughout Oracle Park. For May, the team hopes to reconfigure its seat manifest to open entire sections for fully vaccinated fans and ultimately increase their overall capacity to 50%, a Giants spokesperson said.
The five California counties that house major league teams are currently operating within the state's Orange tier, which typically allows for 33% capacity.