Cubs Detail COVID Safety Protocols at the Ballpark this Season

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Are you ready to return to the Friendly Confines, Chicago Cubs fans? If so, you better stay safe, wear a mask and keep your social distancing up. Tomorrow is opening day at Wrigley Field, against the Pittsburgh Pirates, and weather wise, it’s going to be a character builder.

The forecast calls for an air temperature of right about freezing (33 degrees F) around the time of first pitch. If you’re getting up early to “pregame,” you’ll “tailgate” in temps that hover around the mid to high 20s, so bundle up! It’s going to be nasty.

Of course, outdoors is the safest place to be during a once-in-a-century pandemic, as COVID-19 just doesn’t seem to transmit too effectively when you’re outside. Think about all those heavy crowds, mobscenes we have seen over the past year (boat parades/parties, Black Lives Matter protests, Notre Dame field storming versus Clemson, title celebrations in Tampa, Alabama and on and on), which didn’t result in massive outbreaks.

If the virus was born in an animal and jumped to humans, it’s difficult to understand how that happened, given how animals live outdoors and this particular coronavirus just does not thrive when it’s outside. Maybe it did indeed escape from a lab, but right now both competing theories are problematic, and even the World Health Organization admits that.

More extensive investigation is required, and that means the Chinese government will need to allow much better access than they previously have.

That all said, no matter how it started, COVID is here now, and you must protect yourself. This pandemic is probably in the 6th or 7th inning, but if we let up now, it will rage on into extra innings.

The Cubs announced on Wednesday, a safety plan adhering to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the State of Illinois, City of Chicago and MLB guidelines.

Wrigley Field will be equipped in 2021 with touch-free bathroom fixtures and mobile handwashing stations. They are also incorporating a touchless entry process, and utilizing mobile options for ticketing and ordering concessions. Advocate Aurora Health also will be providing a KN95 mask and bottle of hand sanitizer to all fans entering the ballpark on Opening Day.

There will also be extensive sanitization of the facilities, with pod style seating to incorporate physical distancing. To get a feel for how this might go, read our piece from last summer, where we attended a Chicago Dogs game in Rosemont, under such conditions.

The ballpark’s suites, enclosed club spaces and bathrooms will all have air purifiers installed. Additionally, Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady and Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike will each throw out the ceremonial first pitch.

Overall, it’s not the conditions, and certainly not the weather we want, but to quote the 1993 San Diego Padres ad campaign (this was the year after what was one of the worst fire sales in Major League Baseball history), “hey, it’s baseball.”

Paul M. Banks runs The Sports Bank, partnered with News NowBanks, the author of “No, I Can’t Get You Free Tickets: Lessons Learned From a Life in the Sports Media Industry,” has regularly appeared in WGNSports IllustratedChicago Tribune and SB Nation. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram.

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