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Many look forward to outdoor activities and dining as CDC guidelines relax for those fully vaccinated

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LA CROSSE, Wis. (WXOW) - The CDC announced this week that they are relaxing the mask wearing guidelines for those that have been fully vaccinated.

With that comes more people enjoying outdoor activities including baseball this summer, and outdoor dining at places around town.

Earlier this week U.S. health officials announced that they are no longer recommending mask wearing for those that have been fully vaccinated when outside, not in large crowds.

They released the new guidance Tuesday after more than half of U.S. adults have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine, and more than one third have been fully vaccinated.

So what does that mean for the La Crosse area? Loggers baseball and outdoor dining at restaurants.

Ben Kapanke, general manager of the La Crosse Loggers, said they are so excited to be back for a full season with 72 games this year.

"A year ago there was a lot of 'I don't even know if we will be able to play baseball games.' We played 48 games. We were fortunate. There were a lot of teams that couldn't play due to guidelines in their counties and restrictions," said Kapanke.

He said they were just happy to be able to play and give guys the chance to get games in. This year, they are looking forward to things getting back to normal.

"There are so many positive things going on right now with the vaccinations numbers going way up and our county has been doing an awesome job at that. Numbers continue to trickle downwards. We know a lot more this year than we did a year ago," said Kapanke.

He said a lot of their protocols this year are based on what fans are saying and the feedback they get. While he said they don't know officially what things will be like when they open in 30 days but he said they have heard overwhelmingly positive things.

"People are so excited to get back out. Take in a Logger game, take in an event here at the ballpark. Whatever that may be whether it's a live concert or a Logger game, whatever the case, they want to come back out and have fun," said Kapanke.

He said from their perspective they want to do this as safely as possible for their fans so they will enhance their capacity a bit this year, but still be a general admission ballpark so fans can sit where their comfort level is. While he said they are grateful to have gotten through last season, this one they hope is a home run.

"We want to get back to normal. We live and breathe on events, crowds, people having a good time and socially interacting with each other. That's what we want to see. We want to see kids out here high fiving players, people being able to throw out first pitches, and all these different things we've done in the past," said Kapanke.

The fans, he said truly make it a great experience for the players and he believes this year, they will make the atmosphere fantastic.

Just down the road the La Crosse Distilling Company is looking forward to the same thing. A sense of normalcy again. Co-owner Chad Stahely said they have seen a lot more business in the last few weeks.

"I would attribute some of that to the great weather. Also the fact that here in La Crosse County we are seeing a down tick in cases which I think is due to the hard work everyone has done in the healthcare industry in terms of getting people vaccinated, wearing their masks, and doing the right things," said Staelhly.

He explained that their outdoor patio has become very popular and he believes people can see that they are still following safety precautions and that's why they feel safe coming out and dining.

"We're seeing more and more hints of normalcy as the days go by. Here as the weather warms up and as cases continue to down tick, we're seeing a great turnout and business has never been better," said Staehly.

He said they are excited for this summer and people getting out and enjoying things again.

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Rylie Kyhn

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