The Los Angeles Angels have reached the 85% vaccination threshold against COVID-19 for Tier 1 personnel that will now come with relaxed protocols.
Beyond being able to eat at restaurants and leave the hotel when on the road, there is also a loosened mask mandate, with masks no longer being required in the dugout or the clubhouse. There are a number of other new protocols as well that served as a reward for reaching the 85% number.
Angels manager Joe Maddon spoke specifically about the removed mask mandate and how it signals a return to normalcy in baseball, according to Jack Harris of The L.A. Times:
“Masks make it difficult when a ballpark gets loud, or even just conversationally when you’re trying to get a point across,” Angels manager Joe Maddon said, adding: “I was getting to the point where — I’ve only been here a short period of time — when some people who work around the office took their mask off, I didn’t recognize them. It worked in reverse. The unmasked face was unrecognizable compared to the masked face. So it’s good to get back to normal patterns.”
“[The relaxed protocol] makes communicating a lot easier,” Maddon said. “It’s liberating, it’s a more refreshing way, it’s the way we were designed to live. Everything about it is great.”
The Angels are one of 15 teams to reach this 85% threshold as of last Friday, with more to join soon. Once all 30 teams are past that number, baseball games will start to look completely normal, especially as full capacity crowds return to games.
While it will be odd to — for the first time in a couple years — see no one wearing a mask in the dugout, it will be refreshing just as Maddon said. The Angels will now also be able to do more to bond as a team without having to worry about any potential spread of COVID-19.
Angels to return to full capacity on June 17
In just a couple weeks, the Angels will open up their ballpark to 100% capacity crowds, the team announced recently. Single-game tickets for the remainder of the season have already gone on sale, and fans will be able to attend in full force with only some requirements on masks.
Masks will not be required for anyone willing to show proof of vaccination. Also, masks will not be required when eating or drinking, which is consistent with the current stadium policy.