The Dallas Mavericks welcomed back a limited number of fans at the American Airlines Center by honoring North Texas essential workers on Monday.
As the Mavericks took on the Minnesota Timberwolves, 1,500 essential workers cheered them on from inside the arena.
The Mavs offered vaccinated essential workers, including medical professionals, police, firefighters, food services, and others, the opportunity to attend an upcoming home game from Feb. 8 to Feb. 14.
Those workers were allowed to attend the game for free.
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"The Mavs and Mavs Foundation have been committed to supporting our essential workers through PPE and donated meals over the past year, and this is just another way we can say "thank you" for serving us day in and day out," Dallas Mavericks CEO Cynthia Marshall said. "Hopefully this will be a much-needed break from very hectic and tumultuous schedules."
Each essential worker must have received at least one round of the COVID-19 vaccine, and they must show their CDC COVID-19 Vaccination Record Card before entering the American Airlines Center.
Game attendees must also complete the Fan Health Survey at least 30 minutes before entering the arena on game day, and they must wear face masks and practice social distancing at all times, the Dallas Mavericks said.
“I think they’re doing all the right things," physician Adil Ahmed said.
Before the pandemic, Ahmed and his wife were season ticket holders.
He said he hoped Monday's game was the first step towards normalization post-vaccine.
“I think as long as we do things the right way, as long as we mask, and as long as everyone gets vaccinated, we’ll be able to open up responsibly and kind of move forward," Ahmed said.
Only 11 other NBA teams are allowing fans inside their arenas.
"We owe so much to people who have put their lives at risk to make us safer," Mavs owner Mark Cuban said. "Bringing them to a Mavs game is the least we can do!"