CHICAGO (CBS) — Opening Day for Major League Baseball is less than a month away, but don’t expect to see fans in the stands at Chicago Cubs or White Sox home games when the regular season starts.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Tuesday afternoon that officials are not yet ready to allow fans inside sports stadiums just yet, even though the city has seen significant improvement in key COVID-19 metrics, but she said she expects that to happen at some point this year.

READ MORE: Spring Training Report: COVID Will Loom Over Baseball For Another Season

“I think there will be a point sometime this season where you’ll see fans in the stands at both Wrigley [Field] and Guaranteed Rate Field, which I still call Sox Park,” Lightfoot said Tuesday afternoon as she announced the easing of COVID-19 restrictions on restaurants, bars, and other businesses.

Chicago on Tuesday reported COVID-19 test positivity rate of 2.9%, the lowest its’ been during the pandemic, as well as a record low average of 42 emergency room visits per day for COVID-like illnesses.

Chicago Department of Public Health Dr. Allison Arwady said if the city’s virus metrics continue to improve, virus restrictions in Chicago could be rolled back even further.

The mayor said she’s been in talks with both the Cubs and White Sox about how to allow for fans inside the ballparks this season, but isn’t ready yet to open up the turnstiles.

READ MORE: Spring Training 2021: Cubs’ Kris Bryant On Relationship With Jed Hoyer, White Sox’ Nick Madrigal Feeling Healthier And Ready To Go

“I think they’ve come up with very good plans, and when we are ready, we will announce what the future will look like for the potential spectators in the stands,” Lightfoot said.

All 30 teams in Major League Baseball are allowing fans at their spring training facilities in Arizona and Florida, though capacity will be severely limited. The Chicago Cubs are welcoming the most fans (3,630 per game) while the San Francisco Giants will have the fewest (1,000 per game).

Some teams in MLB already have announced plans to allow limited attendance at their stadiums this season, but the White Sox and Cubs apparently will start the season without fans in the stands.

All 30 teams played the abbreviated 2020 season without fans in the stands, and only very limited numbers of fans were allowed for part of the postseason last year.

MORE NEWS: Spring Training 2021: Jose Abreu Raring To Go, Luis Robert Called ‘Six-Tool Player’ For White Sox, Jason Heyward Calls Cubs Fans ‘Best In Baseball’

 

CBS 2 Chicago Staff