Miami Heat fans who have received full doses of a COVID-19 vaccine will have their own, private section at AmericanAirlines Arena starting next month.
The Heat announced on Tuesday plans to open up two sections in their lower bowl starting on April 1 for fans who can provide proof that they have been fully vaccinated for at least 14 days. Those fans will enter the arena through their own private gate.
Fans in this section will still have to wear masks, though social distancing guidelines will be relaxed somewhat. Pods of fans in that section will be separated by a single seat.
Though the Heat are believed to be the first team in the United States to announce a plan like this, the idea is one that is almost certainly going to become commonplace in the sports world — at least early on as vaccines continue to be administered.
The NBA told teams last week, per The Associated Press, that sections like this will be allowed under specific guidelines. If those sections are within 30 feet of the court, for example, those fans will all have to have taken a coronavirus test two days before the game.
“You’re already getting a sense that things are starting to change and go in a much more positive direction,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said, via The Associated Press. “Just the environment in our building, I remember those first couple games we had at the beginning of the year when there was literally nobody here, that was an eerie experience.”
The Heat have been allowing a limited number of fans return since January, and have even used coronavirus detecting dogs at the arena. Some members of the Heat team and staff have received their vaccines, too, joining members of the Pelicans and the Hawks organizations as the first in the NBA to do so.
At least 25% of Americans have received a single dose of a coronavirus vaccine as of Tuesday afternoon, according to The New York Times, and 14% are fully vaccinated. The country is now administering 2.5 million doses on average each day, too. Florida has had 24% of residents receive a single dose and 13% of residents are fully vaccinated.
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