NASCAR is taking another step closer to a pre-COVID environment with the sanctioning body announcing on Thursday that face coverings are no longer mandatory in outdoor areas such as pit road, and the garage area.
Masks and face coverings will remain mandatory within enclosed areas such as buildings and team haulers.
The new change will take effect beginning this weekend when the sport visits Dover, Delaware.
“Going forward, our focus is on encouraging everyone to get vaccinated and preventing indoor spread of COVID-19,” the sanctioning body said in a statement Thursday morning.
It was only a few weeks back that the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated its mask guidelines for outdoor activities. Those fully vaccinated can dine, and attend small gatherings with no mask, with the real concern only coming at crowded outdoor events. NASCAR is continuing to limit who is allowed within the infield of venues, with the sport opening up to a small allowance of guests at Darlington last weekend.
Organizations are also stepping in to help the sport get back to traditional race weekends. Multiple teams including Team Penske, and Hendrick Motorsports hosted vaccination events for their team members in recent weeks, while 23XI partnered with Novant Health to encourage vaccinations among race fans. NASCAR is working with the White House COVID-19 Response Team to promote vaccinations, giving away tickets to the 2022 Daytona 500 for fans pledging or receiving the vaccine. The effort is a part of a larger push for other major sports including the NFL and MLS to incentivize fans to get the vaccine for a chance at prizes and experiences.
Fans attending the Dover race weekend can get their COVID-19 vaccination at the track, with the speedway offering single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccines for those 18 years or older at the Monster Monument at Victory Plaza from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. EST.