MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The Miami Dolphins have had fans in attendance since the beginning of the NFL season, but capacity has been limited due to the coronavirus pandemic restrictions. With the state moving to Phase 3 of reopening and the governor lifting restrictions on capacity at restaurants and bars, questions about whether the team could go to full capacity began to surface.
According to the South Florida Sun Sentinel, a spokesperson for the governor said Wednesday that sports franchises can “do as they see medically and safety wise in their best interests.”
For the Dolphins, the organization has reportedly decided to continue with limited capacity for the rest of the season. ESPN.com’s Cameron Wolfe reports that the team does not plan to open the stadium to full capacity this season. Instead, they plan to keep attendance to the limited capacity of 13,000 that they have used thus far this season.
The Dolphins didn’t ask for & don’t plan to go to 65K full capacity at games this season, source says.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis gave them clearance to do so now, as @AndySlater reported, but Dolphins feel more comfortable continuing their plan of hosting 13K fans right now.
— Cameron Wolfe (@CameronWolfe) October 7, 2020
In a statement to Wolfe, Dolphins CEO Tom Garfinkel said that the team will continue to follow the CDC guidelines.
“We’ll continue to follow CDC guidelines & put everyone’s safety first & monitor things as they go. Right now w/ positivity rates where they are, we feel that we can keep people safe in a socially distanced environment, which is our 13K capacity,” said Garfinkel.
The team doesn’t play a home game again until October 25 when they welcome the Los Angeles Chargers to Hard Rock Stadium.
The move to Phase 3 comes as the state’s coronavirus cases continue to rise, with over 720,000 confirmed cases as of today. In Miami-Dade County, there were 431 new cases reported as of this morning and the county has a 14 day positivity rate of 4.73%.
Increased capacity or not, infectious disease specialist Dr. Aileen Marty believes limiting COVID transmission starts with an individual’s actions.
“The reality is that everything hangs on our behavior. There’s so much we can do, so many venues we can have open,” explained Dr. Marty,” And in a setting where it’s outdoors, which is what we’re talking about here with the Hard Rock stadium, the risk is lower of transmission of this horrific SARS-CoV-2 virus.”
Dr. Marty added that everyone must wear facial coverings and must not violate the six-feet apart rule. Screaming fans not following those two important rules, she said, will greatly increase the risk of transmission.
“When we speak, when we shout, when we sing, we get all excited and shout as one is likely to do at a wonderful game, yes, that’s a much higher probability of spreading particles,” she explained. “And then getting around from whatever leaks you might have on your facial covering, which can get into people close by.”
Assuming the organization can maintain those “bubbles” around fans, and the fans “maintain the hygiene, the facial coverings,” Dr. Marty believes “it’s possible to have a lot more people at the Hard Rock Stadium.”