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Willie Marcial bares fan protocols for PBA's Araneta, MOA return

Some fans have finally got to watch a basketball game live, although they have to be two seats apart. Ivan Saldajeno
By Ivan Saldajeno

MANILA--As the PBA gears up for its return to the Smart Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City for the Christmas season and the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay for the new year, the league revealed the protocols the fans must follow as they will be allowed to watch the games in the aforementioned arenas in flesh once again amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Commissioner Willie Marcial said on Friday night in a hybrid press conference from the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig that all paying patrons must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 before entry.

"Kailangan dalhin nyo yung vaccination card nyo tapos may dala kayo na isang government ID na valid para makapasok kayo," Marcial revealed another prerequisite for contact tracing purposes.

He also said that fans must wear their face masks at all times and, unlike on a normal day, they cannot bring their food to the stands.

"Meron na talagang area kung saan kayo kakain," Marcial revealed the protocol set for those who would be dining inside the arenas.

He also said that both the Smart Araneta Coliseum and the MOA Arena will be imposing a two-seats-apart rule for those looking to sit right beside each other.

The same social distancing rule is being implemented in the MPBL Invitational, which has already begun on Saturday.

Meanwhile, although indoor venues are allowed to welcome the crowd at a 50 percent seating capacity limit in provinces under Alert Level 2 like Metro Manila, Marcial bared that both venues, which can accommodate about 15,000 people on a normal day, would be very stringent in limiting the number of fans allowed to watch the games live.

"Sa pinagusapan namin, sa Araneta, mga around 3,000-4,000 lang. Sa MOA, mga around 1,000-1,300," he further said.

Marcial also said that minors, especially those who are unvaccinated, might not be allowed to enter the said arenas.

However, he hinted at a possibility that more fans might be accommodated down the road ahead of the playoffs.

That, of course, would depend on the COVID-19 situation in the country by that time with the threat of the omicron variant now looming.

"Pag nako-control natin ang pandemya, siguradong itataas nila [ang allowed capacity]," Marcial further said as he also hopes that Metro Manila would be placed under Alert Level 1, which is basically the "new normal" status.

Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno

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