BRISTOL, Tenn. — For the first time, Bristol Motor Speedway will host NASCAR's All-Star Race. As many as 30,000 fans could be on hand, and potentially spread the coronavirus.
It will be the biggest sporting event with fans allowed in the stands since the coronavirus pandemic began.
"We have to assume everyone is potentially infected," said Stephen May, Sullivan County Regional Health Department.
Dr. May said Bristol Motor Speedway's safety plan is exceptional.
"The real trick is in the execution," he said. "That's where we are going to have to rely on the fans to be a part of these safety measures."
He also said that since the speedway will have enough room to practice social distancing, and officials limited ticketing to the event, there are reduced chances of COVID-19 spreading in the arena. He said what happens in the community is more concerning.
Dr. May stressed the importance of wearing a mask and social distancing.
"We've got to respect and love our neighbor by showing we care about them, and the way we do that right now, the most simple thing is to wear your mask, social distance and keep your hands washed," he said.
At a press conference Friday, Ballad Health's Chief Operating Officer, Eric Deaton, said community members need to do their part in order to stop the spread — especially when it comes to the All-Star race.
"Every business and every individual has to be diligent about this ... we have to be careful that we are protecting them and protecting the people in the region," he said.
At Pit Row Wine & Liquor, store employees are preparing for a rush of fans.
"We've ordered some extra stuff, just like we always do for the Fall race and we're fortunate to be able to get this race since it's been moved over from Charlotte," said employee, Jimmy Shores.
The virus may force some fans to stay home but if they shop, safety measures are in place.
"Since this outbreak started we've done extra here at Pit Row Wine & Liquor to clean and sanitize, to not only keep us safe but our customers safe," said Shores.
According to Bristol Motor Speedway protocols, fans will be required to wear a face mask when they arrive and in high traffic areas, such as the concourse. Social distancing will be required among groups of fans in the grandstands and individually in concession lines and the restrooms.
Bristol Motor Speedway will have less than 25% of its seating capacity for the race. All reserved seating assignments will be within regulations with social distancing.
All tickets will be e-tickets and scanned mobile devices when entering the gates. All concessions and souvenirs will only accept credit or debit card transactions. No cash will be accepted.
Coolers will not be allowed in, to reduce exposure to the virus. Fans will also only be allowed to bring one clear bag with food and drinks. The bag must be no larger than 14x14x14 inches in diameter. The food and drink must be unopened.
A list of prohibited items and other safety protocols can be found online.