There will be fans in the pews again when the Grand Ole Opry kicks off its 95th birthday celebration on Oct. 3.
"It feels like having 500 fans in the audience is the next step as we work to return from this pandemic," Dan Rogers, Opry executive producer, told the Tennessean.
The first live audience since March for country music's most storied radio show will be entertained by announcer Bobby Bones plus four Opry members: Dierks Bentley, Terri Clark, Vince Gill and Lorrie Morgan.
The news comes after sister venue the Ryman Auditorium started allowing small audiences at live shows while following COVID-19 precautions.
"We're learning from the Ryman," Rogers told the Tennessean. "It will be very, very similar and equally as safe."
Per its website, Opry management's plan for reopening the show to the public "will strictly comply with operating plans developed in partnership with the Nashville Public Health Department and Vanderbilt Health that include socially distanced seating, mandatory masks for all guests and staff, as well as enhanced cleaning practices."
The Opry's Saturday night program has gone without a live audience since March 14 thanks to the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic. In that span, guests have included Brad Paisley, Darius Rucker, Luke Combs, Blake Shelton, Reba McEntire, Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood.
The world's longest-running radio show can be heard on opry.com, wsmonline.com and on SiriusXM satellite radio. You can also listen to Saturday broadcasts live on the Grand Ole Opry and WSM Radio mobile apps, and on its flagship home, 650 AM-WSM.