NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Baseball is back in New York!  It was Opening Day at Yankee Stadium, and fans returned to the stands for the first time since 2019, before the pandemic.

Restrictions have eased up since last season, but spectators still have to follow some COVID guidelines.

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“Hopefully it’s just the start of starting to see our attendance really grow,” Yankees Manager Aaron Boone said Wednesday. “Get our support all the way to where it belongs.”

“The experience, of course, will be a little different. We encourage all fans to get here early,” said Doug Behar, senior vice president of stadium operations, before the game.

The team is allowed a maximum capacity of 20%, or 10,850, fans, who sit in pods of mostly two to four people, separated by six feet. Social distancing and masks are mandatory.

Capacity is a far cry from the packed house fans and the team are used to, but Boone is happy to have fans back in any capacity.

Even with restrictions, many were excited that Opening Day was the first step in a return to normalcy.

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“It’s been since, what, October of ’19 that I haven’t been here? Walking off the train today and just looking up and seeing this, you could cry,” one fan told CBS2’s Steve Overmyer.

Fans are required to show either proof of full vaccination or a negative COVID test from the past 72 hours to get inside.

There are no vendors in the stands, but concessions are open with a new cashless-only system. There are special card machines for fans who need them.

“Going forward, it’s something that I’ll always remember,” said pitcher Gerrit Cole. “Every time I see a fan or sign an autograph for a kid, oh yeah I’ll remember at one point this was taken away from us. So you know it’s very gratifying to know that they’re going to be back.”

Meanwhile, the stadium will continue to be used as a COVID vaccination site through at least the end of April, expect when the team is home for a day game.

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CBS2’s John Dias contributed to this report.

Steve Overmyer