Texas congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee has labelled a capacity crowd at the Rangers’ huge opener a “disaster”.
The Texas Rangers played their opening home game of the 2021 MLB season in front of a packed house on Monday, the largest crowd at a US sporting event since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.
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A near-capacity crowd of around 40,000 fans crammed into Globe Life Field for the game against the Toronto Blue Jays.
The decision to allow a capacity crowd at the game followed an order from Texas Governor Greg Abbott last month to fully re-open the state.
Last week, President Joe Biden criticised the decision to allow a full house at Monday's game, saying the Rangers were not being "responsible."
"That's a decision they made. I think it's a mistake," Biden said in an interview with ESPN.
"They should listen to Dr. [Anthony] Fauci, the scientists and the experts. But I think it's not responsible.
“This is deadly serious. This is not a time to lessen our efforts. We could still see a setback in the vaccination program.
“If we let our guard down now we could see a virus getting worse, not better. People are letting up on precautions, which is a very bad thing.
“Now is not the time to let down. Now’s not the time to celebrate. It is time to do what we do best as a country: our duty, our jobs. Take care of one another.
“I’m reiterating my call for every governor, mayor and local leader to maintain and reinstate the mask mandate. Please, this is not politics."
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Congresswoman Jackson Lee, a Democrat representing Texas’s 18th district, said the crowd was a "disaster".
“I’m a great sports fan of all of our teams across the state,” Ms Jackson Lee told CNN.
“But I think it was a disaster, and I’m enormously disappointed, and it was a wrong confrontation in the face of reality.”
Although the coronavirus situation is improving across the United States with steep declines in infection rates and millions being vaccinated every day, most sporting venues are still operating at reduced capacity.
The 40,300-capacity Globe Life Field staged last year's World Series between the Los Angeles Dodgers and Tampa Bay Rays, allowing around 11,400 fans into the stadium.
In announcing plans to welcome a capacity crowd last month, Rangers officials detailed a series of safety protocols which included fans being required to wear masks at all times except when eating and drinking.
However photos and footage from Monday's game in Arlington showed swathes of fans ignoring the mask mandate, either by wearing a mask incorrectly or in many cases, not at all.
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