Fans allowed at Mets, Yankees games with proof of vaccine or negative COVID test

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MLB: Exhibition-New York Mets at New York Yankees
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NEW YORK (Reuters) - The New York Yankees and Mets are welcoming back fans after the pandemic forced both Major League Baseball (MLB) teams to play in empty home stadiums last year, with attendees required to provide proof of a vaccine or test negative for COVID-19.

Yankee Stadium and Citi Field, both of which have served as vaccination sites, will each allow 20% capacity to start the season, with the Mets' home opener slated for April 8 and the Bronx Bombers kicking things off April 1.

The Mets said in a statement Thursday that fans must provide proof of a negative result from a PCR or antigen test, while the Yankees said guests "will be required" to take a test.

Other health and safety measures - including temperature checks, mask-wearing and social distancing - will also be enforced, the teams said.

"We’re really excited about the season ahead and welcoming the best fans in baseball back — safely," said Mets owner Steve Cohen, adding that he would continue to work with state officials "as capacity restrictions and testing requirements hopefully ease" in the future.

The announcement comes after New York Governor Cuomo said Thursday that pro sports in large outdoor stadiums can reopen at 20% capacity beginning April 1 and that statewide travel for sports would be permitted starting March 29.

MLB teams have largely been left to determine their level of attendance since the novel coronavirus forced the league into a months-long hiatus last year, with state and local officials enforcing different standards across the U.S.

New York City, the largest sports market in the United States, recently eased restrictions on attendance at National Basketball Association (NBA) games, with Madison Square Garden and Brooklyn's Barclays Center welcoming limited numbers of fans beginning last month.

(Reporting by Amy Tennery, editing by Pritha Sarkar)