PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — As COVID-19 infection rates drop and vaccinations climb, Philadelphia health officials suggest some restrictions could be lifted later this week. That could mean baseball fans can attend the Phillies’ home opener in April.
Officials are reviewing restrictions on crowd sizes set to expire March 1.
The Flyers, Phillies and Sixers have all submitted requests and proposals to the city to let fans back at their games, and it looks like that could happen, with some limitations.
“I’m looking forward to getting back to normal,” Mayor Jim Kenney said.
The mayor says the new normal could be fans at Citizens Bank Park for Phillies Opening Day on April 1.
“It’s likely there would be some fans in the stands at the Phillies’ home opener, but how many is gonna depend, not just on us, but also what the state decides,” Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley said.
The health commissioner says the city will probably ease restrictions on crowd limits, but the state would need to do the same thing to allow fans back into sporting events.
“We did receive requests from the Sixers, Flyers and the Phillies and we are looking at our event limits,” Farley said.
Farley said there’s been an 80% drop in weekly COVID infections not related to vaccinations. At the same time, vaccine supplies have improved significantly.
“The greatest limiting factor is not the number of doses we receive, but our own capacity to administer it,” Farley said.
Philadelphia opened its first standing COVID vaccination clinic at the Martin Luther King Jr. Adult Center in North Philadelphia.
“It feels good to be able to get a shot,” Brian Ballabee said.
Two other standing clinics are set to open as the city continues to expand vaccinations. Precautions are still advised.
“I’m concerned that people may start to think we’re finished with this and they can throw the masks away. Not yet, we have to be wearing masks for a long time,” Farley cautioned.
For Dorothy Miller, getting the vaccine has her looking forward to being able to see her great-grandson.
“I just want to be sure I’m OK to see the baby,” Miller said.
And for Gloria Jefferson, the vaccine is about something very simple.
“It means freedom,” she said.
Along with expanding vaccine clinics, which will include large retailers and pharmacies, FEMA will open its mass vaccination site at the Pennsylvania Convention Center next Wednesday.
Even with all that, city officials say they probably won’t move to the next phase until April.