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The Baker administration, which had said that the final phase of the state's reopening is contingent upon a COVID-19 vaccine or reliable therapeutics, "would be willing to look at" an exception to allow some fans to attend New England Patriots games at Gillette Stadium this fall, Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito said Thursday.
On Wednesday, the administration formally notified the Boston Red Sox that the state will not permit fans to attend baseball games at Fenway Park this season and told the Patriots and New England Revolution that Gillette Stadium must remain devoid of fans at least through the end of September.
On Thursday, Polito said fans were ruled out for Fenway Park because the baseball season is shorter and "directly coincides with the return to school, and the return of many kids back to college campuses, and it didn't seem appropriate for us to allow for that venue to be occupied with fans."
But when it comes to Gillette, the lieutenant governor said, "We are not allowing fans, through September, but we would be willing to look at the opportunity in the future, depending on what the circumstances are."
Bars, concert halls and large venues like Fenway, Gillette and the TD Garden where the risk of COVID-19 transmission is through to be highest are all part of Phase 4 of the state's reopening strategy, which Housing and Economic Development Secretary Mike Kennealy — who co-chairs the state's reopening advisory board with Polito — said earlier this month "is predicated on a medical breakthrough."
"Phase 4 does have arenas and large venues and other areas we thought that were [areas where] the virus was a particular risk of transmission. Now, Phase 4 is predicated on all of us getting through Phase 3, doing the things we all can do as I mentioned this idea of shared responsibility. But, in our view, Phase 4 really is predicated on some kind of medical breakthrough — either a vaccine or therapeutics to treat the virus," he said on WCVB's "On the Record" program.
Professional sports teams were authorized to hold games without spectators when the state moved to Phase 3, which is the current stage.
During the same interview, Kennealy allowed for the possibility of a small number of fans being allowed to attend games at some point before a vaccine is available. When co-host Janet Wu asked if the bottom line is "no live entertainment and no fans in the sporting events until there probably is a vaccine," the secretary responded, "Certainly not at the scale we're accustomed to, no."
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