With the United States in the middle of a third Coronavirus wave, the New England Patriots have yet to play a game this season in front of a live audience: the team has decided not to let any fans in for each of its first four home games. Now we know that the final four contests at Gillette Stadium will also be played with the stands empty.
The stadium’s officials released a statement on Monday that it will not be permitted to host fans at any Patriots or New England Revolution games throughout the rest of their respective 2020 seasons. The statement opens as follows:
Throughout the last several months, Gillette Stadium officials and the Kraft Sports + Entertainment organization have worked diligently to develop a plan to safely host fans at a reduced capacity. We have done so in collaboration with a team of infectious disease experts and the Massachusetts Reopening Advisory Board and feel confident in our plan, which complies with guidelines issued by the CDC, the National Football League and Major League Soccer.
We have recently been informed that the Governor’s Executive Order prohibiting large capacity venues from opening to the public will remain in force for the remainder of the 2020 football and soccer seasons.
The statement also added that the decision is an understandable yet disappointing one for fans and teams alike, and that Gillette Stadium will “continue to work closely with the advisory board to safely reopen our building.”
Massachusetts’ recent spike in Coronavirus cases — the Commonwealth registered more than 1,800 new cases on Sunday — forced the the government of Gov. Charlie Baker to announce a strict new set of guidelines, that also has a major impact on organized sports. As a result, the Patriots’ previous plans to have fans eventually return are therefore no longer realistic.
The team originally presented plans back in July that it would reduce capacity in its home stadium to around 20 percent pending local and state approval. Those had to be altered, however, with the team announcing that it would play its first two home games without any fans present. Those two games have since increased to four, with the games against the Denver Broncos and San Francisco 49ers also not having any spectators in attendance.
The next time that fans might therefore be able to watch the team is late July, when the team will open its 2021 training camp.