Massachusetts announced proposed increases to capacity for large gatherings on Tuesday. Come September it could be like old times, with fans packed tight in the stands in Gillette Stadium like when the Green Bay Packers played in Foxborough, Mass. in 2018. Winslow Townson/AP Images for Panini

Boston’s pro sports teams could be playing in front of full-capacity crowds by August, according to new Massachusetts COVID-19 reopening guidelines.

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker’s office announced Tuesday that capacity at large venues, such as indoor and outdoor stadiums, arenas and ballparks, can increase from their current level of 12% to 25% beginning May 10.

Those limits would then increase to 100% for all businesses on Aug. 1 as vaccination numbers continue to increase and the state enters its final phase of reopening. The state will also relax its mandatory mask order for some outdoor settings, effective at the end of April.

The shift means that the New England Patriots could begin their 2021 season with Gillette Stadium at full capacity. It also clears the way for the Boston Marathon, which last year was canceled for the first time in its 124-year history and shifted this year from its normal mid-April running to Oct. 11.

All of these changes are based on vaccination distribution and favorable public health data and could change. Also included in the changes, road races and other large, outdoor organized amateur or professional group athletic events will be permitted with staggered starts, while youth and adult amateur sports tournaments will be allowed for moderate and high-risk sports.

Singing will also be allowed indoors with strict distancing requirements at performance venues, restaurants and other businesses. Amusement parks, theme parks and outdoor water parks will be permitted to operate at 50% capacity.

The Baker administration announced numerous updates to its policies on Tuesday. Its outdoor mask mandate is relaxed as the numbers of hospitalizations and cases of COVID-19 continue to decline in the state, and beginning Friday, face masks will only be required outside in public when it’s not possible to socially distance – or when required for other reasons, including at outdoor events.

Face coverings will still be required at all times in indoor public places, including stores. Face coverings will also continue to be required at all times at events, whether held indoors or outdoors and whether held in a public space or private home, except when eating or drinking.

At smaller gatherings in private homes, face coverings are recommended but not required. The $300 fine that had been put in place as an enforcement mechanism will also be eliminated.

As for the Red Sox, Fenway Park will be able to hold roughly 9,400 fans for games beginning May 11 against the Athletics.

Through the first 16 home games of the year, the Red Sox have hosted 4,500-4,700 fans. They’ll play three more games with 12% capacity – from May 4-6 against the Tigers – before going to the 25% number for a six-game homestand against the Athletics and Angels from May 11-16.

Red Sox President and CEO Sam Kennedy told MassLive the news would help the club plan more appropriately for summer events. The ballpark is scheduled to host eight concerts between July 16 and Sept. 14 in addition to 65 more Red Sox games this season.

The Red Sox opened the season with the smallest allowed capacity of the 30 MLB teams. Tuesday’s announcement also applies to the Worcester Red Sox, who will be able to open Polar Park at 25% capacity for the team’s inaugural game on May 11.

MassLive contributed to this report


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