Following a season in which the Big Ten did not allow the general public to attend football games due to the coronavirus pandemic, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine believes Ohio Stadium will once again be able to operate at full capacity by the time Ohio State’s Sept. 11 home opener against Oregon rolls around.
“Last season, most collegiate football conferences had capacity restrictions that were more stringent than state protocols,” DeWine said in a statement provided to Kyle Rowland of The Toledo Blade. “As a result, last season, it was the conference rules that were setting capacity, as they were more restrictive.
“Currently, Ohio has no capacity limitation for outdoor events. Sporting event organizers do currently have protocols to social distance pods of no more than 10 persons. This is in line with our simplified mitigation protocols focused on distancing and masking (when one cannot socially distance, such as at crowded events like sporting events).
“Ohio has set a benchmark that we will remove COVID mitigation protocols when we drop below high case levels. This will happen when our two-week case rate drops below 50 cases per 100,000 residents. We believe this is likely to happen well before the start of football season, and the CDC echoed that optimism in statements this week.”
As mentioned, the Big Ten only permitted family members of players, coaches and staff to attend games last fall, though a surge in cases in late November prevented them from attending the Buckeyes’ win over Indiana. The conference then deferred to local health guidelines when it came to attendance at spring games, with Ohio State welcoming 19,180 socially distant fans to Ohio Stadium on April 17.
As it currently stands, Ohio’s two-week case rate is currently at 140.2 per 100,000 residents, down from 155.6 last week and 185.8 the week before. The figure peaked at 845.5 in mid-December and hasn’t been below 50 since last June.
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