After more than a year of restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Mercedes-Benz Stadium will reopen to full capacity on May 15.
In a press release, managing company AMB Sports and Entertainment said the move comes due to “increased access to vaccine distribution, and health and safety protocols in place.”
The stadium became a focal point of Atlanta during the COVID-19 pandemic when it opened its doors to vaccine distribution. It also served as an early voting location during last year’s tumultuous presidential election.
In addition to hosting the Atlanta Falcons, the stadium is also home to Atlanta’s soccer club Atlanta United, which has recently begun its new season with fans in the stands for the first time since the pandemic began last year.
Atlanta United took to Twitter to celebrate the news, saying “We’re excited to safely welcome back all of our 17s” — the squad number reserved for fans of the team, based on the year of the club’s founding, 2017.
We’re excited to safely welcome back all of our 17s ⚫️🔴 https://t.co/5RjCaSRyTi— Atlanta United FC (@ATLUTD) April 28, 2021
AMB said the stadium will “maintain health and safety protocols currently in place including, required face-coverings for fans, hand sanitization stands throughout the building, strict cleaning and sanitization before, during and after events, and increased cleaning staff.”
“We are excited to bring our fans back to Mercedes-Benz Stadium,” said Steve Cannon, CEO of AMB Sports and Entertainment. “Given the increased opportunity for Georgians to be vaccinated, the abundant health protocols we have in place at the stadium and the interest from our season ticket members, we felt that now is the right time to reopen the stadium in full capacity allowing all our season ticket members a chance to enjoy watching their teams in person.”
The stadium will not require proof of vaccination for entry, a decision that surprised and even agitated some attendees.
“Are you going to have sections for fully vaccinated? I will attend if you do,” one person wrote on Twitter. “Otherwise not if (you’re) going to be 100%. It’s too early.”
are you going to have sections for fully vaccinated? I will attend if you do. Otherwise not if your going to be 100%. It's too early. @ATLUTD— Barry Johnston (@cpljohnst) April 28, 2021
The move comes as the CDC relaxed mandates for mask wearing in outdoor spaces on Tuesday, saying that fully vaccinated people can go without masks outdoors when walking, jogging or biking, or dining with friends at outdoor restaurants.
According to Our World In Data, 34.3% of the American population has received at least one COVID-19 vaccine shot.
This story comes to Fresh Take Georgia through a reporting partnership with GPB News, a non-profit newsroom covering the state of Georgia.