Fully-vaccinated people may resume travel with “low-risk” to themselves, according to updated guidance announced by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention earlier Friday. 

Health recommendations like masks, hand washing and social distancing are still in effect, however rulings like this from the CDC should be a signal of hope for sports fans everywhere, especially Alabama football fans. 

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As COVID-19 restrictions begin to lift in the US, the likelihood of full stadiums on Saturdays in the fall is becoming more and more probable. Increased air travel not only means the CDC is shifting momentum towards lifting crowd regulations, but also that more out of state fans will be available to attend sporting events.

This CDC announcement follows a recent trend of events that should make Alabama sports fans increasingly hopeful for a return to normal athletic operations. Just over a month ago, UA Athletic Director Greg Byrne tweeted he expected to “move forward with plans to have a full stadium in the fall” while the university continued to monitor the ever-changing landscape of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The purpose of Byrne’s tweet was to answer questions he received on the possibility of full capacity after the university made the decision to resume in person learning “without restriction” back on March 1. 

For the entirety of the 2020 football season, Bryant-Denny Stadium was limited to 20% capacity, with around 20,000 tickets being available in total. Many problems from the lack of tickets arose, including long-time season ticket holders missing out on highly anticipated games like Georgia and Auburn and many criticisms of the student ticket opt-in process.

Alabama football’s 2021 A-Day Game will also have reduced capacity similar to the capacity of the regular season as more and more UA athletes, faculty, and students receive the vaccine. The state of Alabama announced all residents over the age of 16 will be eligible for the vaccine beginning Monday, April 5th. 

Chances are even better Alabama football will allow full stadiums as more and more professional sports leagues express their expectation to reopen stadiums to full capacity. Last Tuesday, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell stated he expected full capacity for the 2021-22 NFL season. Additionally, yesterday MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said in an Opening Day interview he envisioned full stadiums by the middle of the summer.

If football is allowed full capacity in the fall, it should mean full capacity for all other UA sports as well, signaling a huge step in the return to normalcy.

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