The Chicago Cubs are welcoming back fans for the first time since 2019 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, which last season resulted in a shortened 60-game season with no spectators.

The Cubs home opener marked one of Chicago’s first mass events since the pandemic began, forcing fans and Wrigley Field employees to adhere to myriad protocols that would have seemed completely alien and wholly unnecessary just 13 months ago: Ticket entries were timed, everyone had to a mask and attendance was limited to just 25% of the park’s 41,000-seat capacity.

“It won’t be the same, but I think everybody is so excited,” Steve Grolmus, a season ticketholder from the Quad Cities, said before the game. “The excitement level is going to way up there for everybody. So I’m really looking forward to it.”

The 10,343 spectators in attendance got a chance to reclaim a sense of normalcy, even while seated apart in shivering in the sub-40 degree temperatures and watching their team ultimately lose to the Pittsburgh Pirates.

“I’m just happy to be back here in the park,” said John Sternberg, a Sandwich resident who bought his ticket online for $115 to sit in the farthest reaches of the upper deck.

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