The Astros—and the fans—are back at Minute Maid Park, y’all. Yes, after a year and a half, a crowd can watch a baseball game in Houston, starting tonight with the Astros matchup against the Oakland Athletics.
However, if you saw all those photos and videos of the Texas Rangers’ sell-out, full capacity crowd Monday, and that made you nervous, don’t worry. The Astros have implemented a series of Covid-19 rules to keep people safe this season. Read the highlights below.
Entering Minute Maid Park
All entrances will be open beginning two hours before the game, but only half of the metal detectors will be used to ensure social distancing. Make sure your tickets are loaded on your phone before you arrive.
The box office will only be open for ticket resolution issues. All tickets must be bought online—access them via the MLB Ballpark app—so there won’t be will call or any ticket sales at the box office.
You will have to go through a health screening before entering the park. It’s not complicated. Basically, if you’re feeling sick the day of the game or have been exposed to someone with Covid-19 or have had Covid-19 in the past 14 days, stay home.
If you’re showing any Covid-19-like symptoms (fever of 100.4-plus F, cough, sore throat, muscle aches, etc.), you won’t be let in.
How does it work inside the park?
When milling around the concourse—i.e., when you’re finding your seats or getting snacks—you’re encouraged to social distance from others. Basically, do what you’ve been doing for months: stand six feet away from others, wear a mask, and wash your hands.
The Astros and Harris County Houston Sports Authority have teamed up with the City of Houston to sign the Houston Clean pledge, which promises high standards of health and safety for park premises. Learn more about the pledge here.
To protect the team, player autographs will not be allowed, and there will be a buffer zone between dugouts/bullpens and ticketed seats.
There will be some socially distanced seating.
While an official capacity limit hasn’t yet been set for the regular season (stadium capacity is 50 percent in April, and that number will be reevaluated later), parts of the stadium will be specifically designated for social distancing.
In these sections, tickets will be sold in pods of up to four tickets. In the terms of agreement, ticket holders cannot sell individual tickets to anyone outside of their pod. In short, if you bought a pod, you can’t stand on a corner outside the stadium and sell just one ticket to a stranger. You can sell all four tickets to the stranger, though.
Here are the social-distancing sections at Minute Maid: 105-106, 109, 131, 133-134, 305, 309, 328, 333, 334, 405, 406, 407, 408, 409, 413-414, 417-418, 421-422, 424-428, 430, 432-434.
What can I bring into Minute Maid and what do I need to leave at home?
Leave at home: Cash
Everything inside the stadium, like concessions, as well as the parking lots, will be touchless and credit-card only. If you forgot your credit card at home, there will be four reverse ATMs (insert cash, and it spits out a prepaid credit card for you to use) placed near the current ATMs on the main and upper concourses and at the club level.
Bring: Face masks
Everyone age two and older will be required to wear a mask that fully covers the mouth and nose. Just a face shield, as well as gaiters and masks with breathing valves, do not count, according to the Astros website.
Leave at home: Purses and other bags
No bags will be allowed inside Minute Maid, with a few exceptions: diaper bags (There’s a catch: you have to have a baby to go with the diaper bags), medical bags, and fanny packs, wristlets, and single-compartment clutches that are a max size of 9 inches by 5 inches.
Bring: Some outside food
You can bring in outside food, but it must be inside one clear plastic, 1-gallon-sized bag. You can also bring in a clear plastic water bottle, but it must still be sealed, and it cannot be larger than a liter.