Wizards, Capitals to stay open to public as Coronavirus spreads

Chris Lingebach
March 11, 2020 - 4:38 pm
Wizards, Capitals stay open to public as Coronavirus spreads

Patrick Smith/Getty Images


The Capitals and Wizards will go against the recommendation of the D.C. Department of Health and instead proceed with their games "open to spectators" as scheduled, Monumental Sports & Entertainment announced Wednesday.

In an effort to curb the spread of the Coronavirus, the D.C. Department of Health issued a recommendation Wednesday that all "non-essential mass gatherings" be postponed or canceled. Defining 'mass gatherings' as events where "1,000 or more people congregate in a specific location," D.C. Health put it to the organizers of these events to reconsider holding them. That recommendation is in effect until March 31.

"At the current direction of the NBA and NHL, our games will go on as scheduled and be open to spectators," announced Monumental Sports & Entertainment in a press release. "We are in constant contact with both leagues and should they update their guidance, we will update the public accordingly."

"Similarly, all concerts and events being hosted at Capital One Arena are currently planned to go on as scheduled at the direction of their respective promoters," Monumental said. "We are in contact with event organizers and should they update their status, we will update the public accordingly."

The Nationals, who are in Florida for spring training, have since postponed their annual Homecoming Gala scheduled for March 23, their first event that's open to the public upon their eventual return to D.C. The Wizards and Capitals alone have 12 games scheduled to be played at Capital One Arena before the end of the month.

The NBA, MLB, NHL and MLS have already taken steps to limit the reach of the virus, announcing in a joint statement on Monday their intention to limit access to all team locker rooms to "essential personnel" only, which has resulted in media availability being conducted outside of those normal settings.

Monumental advised fans to follow the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "and their state and local health authorities," instructing them to stay home if they are feeling sick, "regardless of their symptoms."

"In addition, we ask that individuals who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 or are otherwise at risk due to potential exposure to COVID-19 follow CDC guidelines by refraining from attendance at community events," the release goes on. "In addition, we ask that Individuals who are elderly and at-risk consider staying home."

Monumental says it is undertaking additional cleanings in high-traffic areas across its properties and encourages fans to follow CDC guidelines on personal hygiene and wellness.

"The health and safety of our employees, players and guests is paramount. We have formed a cross-functional Coronavirus task force and are monitoring updates and following guidance from the CDC, WHO and local governmental authorities."

Since Monumental's announcement, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser has declared a state of emergency in the District.