MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The Memphis Grizzlies are tipping off their season Wednesday in a different way this year.

With new COVID policies in place at FedEx Forum, fans 12 and up must be vaccinated or submit a negative COVID test prior to entering the game.

Tens of thousands of fans are expected to pack the FedEx Forum Wednesday night.

Opening night comes at time where COVID cases are on the decline across Shelby County. The seven-day case average has dropped below 120, the lowest its been in a couple months.

Grizzlies fans like Samantha Thomas believe the measures are necessary, after experiencing the impact of COVID-19 first hand. Six people in her immediate family had the virus at the same time.

“It was terrible. I ended up having COVID pneumonia, I’m still dealing with it now, I have scarring on my lungs so I’m trying to be extremely careful. Thank God I’m here but it was really rough,” she said. “I think it’s an awesome idea to keep everyone safe especially with the number of people that would be here tonight.”

Other Grizzlies fans like Emily Young seem on board with the changes.

“I’m super excited, I love our team, I love the Grizzlies. So I can’t wait, I hope that we get a win tonight,” Young said. “It’s nothing too bad. It’s just for the health and safety of others, just to protect our team, our community. It’s just about loving and being kind to everybody. It’s everybody’s choice so not looking down or anything, just trying to leave the world with kindness.”

Shelby County’s masks mandate is also still in place so fans must be masked up, while attending the game. Those unvaccinated can submit a negative test up to 72 hours prior to the game.

Wednesday’s game against the Cleveland Cavaliers tips off at 7 p.m. These current measures will remain in place at least through November 19.