OPINION: Masks are off as City fans make Carrow Road return
- Credit: Nick Richards
"What exactly are the rules on facemasks?" the man behind me asked a masked steward as he entered the turnstiles at Carrow Road last night.
"There aren't any, really," she replied.
And it seemed that, despite the club advising fans to wear them going through turnstiles and in the concourse and toilets, most fans whipped them off as soon as they were inside the ground.
While most people still seem to be wearing them inside supermarkets and smaller shops, most fans in the South Stand seemed to keep them on in the concourse before this match, City's only Carrow Road pre-season game, against Gillingham
But as soon as they were in their seats, in an outdoor space, they came off.
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I only saw two people, both elderly in age, wearing masks for the whole game, although most of the stewards seemed to be wearing them for the whole 90 minutes.
This crowd of just over 10,600 was the biggest inside Carrow Road for 17 months since Leicester visited for a Premier League game at the end of February 2020.
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My eight-year-old son and I had been at the game against Bournemouth a month earlier and he was desperate to go back to a stadium.
As a dad, I didn't have any safety worries taking him to the game, especially as we'd be sitting in the open air. Even sitting leg-rubbing distance from the chap next to me didn't really concern me.
It just felt like it always feels watching Norwich at Carrow Road, even though it was probably the longest time I've spent sitting so close to someone I don't know for well over a year.
The last time I was in a crowd this big was in March 2020, 13 days before lockdown, at the Cambridge Half Marathon.
There, despite a growing number of Covid cases, the only nod to precaution was simply a load of bottles of hand sanitiser on a table and you kind of felt you had to just get on with it.
Carrow Road felt a little like that too - there didn't seem to be much worry or alarm that this was the first game back.
Apart from the hand sanitisers dotted around the concourse and a few stewards wearing masks, there really was little sign that we've just spent a year-and-a-half locked down dealing with a worldwide pandemic.