By WCCO-TV

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The Minnesota Vikings say they are no longer trying to host fans inside U.S. Bank Stadium for the remainder of the season.

Citing the surging number of COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths in Minnesota, the team said in a statement Wednesday that closing the final four home games to fans is the right decision.

“We look forward to welcoming fans back next season and recreating the special environment we all enjoy at U.S. Bank Stadium,” the statement said. “To be in a position to do that, we strongly encourage everyone in Minnesota to take the necessary precautions to minimize the spread of this virus by wearing face coverings, practicing proper social distancing and limiting social gatherings.”

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Under Minnesota’s COVID-19 guidelines, the team is allowed to host 250 people in the stadium on gameday. Generally, these spots go to relatives of players and team personnel.

Since the start of the season, the Vikings have been working with state and city officials to bring fans back into the downtown Minneapolis stadium. However, the last several days have seen several COVID-19 records broken. Indeed, health officials reported just Wednesday morning a new daily fatality record was breached after 56 people with the virus died in the last 24 hours.

The Vikings’ announcement comes not even a day after Gov. Tim Walz announced new restrictions for bars and restaurants in Minnesota, ordering them to end dine-in service at 10 p.m. The governor also ordered a 10-person limit for all indoor and outdoor gatherings. The new restrictions go into effect Friday.

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