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‘This is my happy place’ | DC hosts first playoff game since the start of the pandemic

Capital One Arena was at 25% capacity for the first time this season ... just in time for the playoffs!

WASHINGTON — For the first time since the pandemic D.C. hosted its first playoff game and Capital One Arena was able to welcome back 5,000 fans as it moved to 25% capacity.

Capitals fans were lined up Saturday evening waiting for the doors to open for game one of the playoffs.

“This is my happy place. This is my happy place and you know, it's been a long time without a happy place,” Melinda Gipson said. “I'm just happy to be in the building I really am.”

Stephanie and PJ Atkinson were also waiting for the doors to open. Saturday marks their third Capitals game of the season, but the first with 5,000 fans in the stands.

“I think it's going to make a big difference. 2,100 [fans] kind of felt like a preseason game. I think the 5,000 with most of the arena open it's going to make a difference tonight,” PJ Atkinson said.

The increased capacity limit also made a difference for businesses surrounding the arena.

RELATED: Nats Park set to have more fans due to lessened COVID restrictions, increased capacity limits

Bar Deco is newly reopened after closing for more than a year during the pandemic.

“We just opened back up about two weeks ago,” Chelsea Sexton, the Director of Hospitality at Bar Deco said. “We’re feeling really great about the restrictions being lessened, and every time we get good news like that we're just super excited. The good news is coming a lot faster than we expected it so we couldn't be happier.”

RELATED: Starting May 21, DC will lift some COVID-19 restrictions and capacity limits

Capital One Arena can move to full capacity on June 11, when all of the District’s COVID-19 restrictions will be lifted.

May 21 is when restrictions lift for everything but entertainment venues and bars.

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