Governor’s new safety measures double crowd size at high school sporting events

Updated: Apr. 3, 2021 at 7:25 AM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Spectator capacity at sporting events is seeing its largest increase since the COVID-19 Pandemic began.

Last week, Governor Ralph Northam announced that large sporting venues, such as Richmond Raceway and The Diamond, will be permitted to operate at 30 percent capacity with no number cap. The last updated guidelines had capped these complexes at 1,000 spectators, but the latest mandates will offer organizations the chance to get more people in the seats.

Recreational sporting events like high school football are also seeing a noticeable bump in spectator capacity. The governor announced that 500 spectators will be permitted at recreational sporting events, doubling the previous number of 250.

Those new restrictions went into effect April 1, and fans of the Friday night Football match-up of Varina High School and Highland Springs are loving the changes.

“I’m excited to almost get back to normal,” Marquis Witted said. “If they can get their hand on a ticket they need to come out and support.”

“It’s been a long time coming, you know with a COVID and everything,” said Curtis Green. “I’m glad I’m here to watch it.”

Previously Northam noted that some of the reasons for not allowing more fans at high school football games come from the lack of resources and personnel to control the crowd. Professional and college sports venues have event staff stationed throughout the stands that can help enforce guidelines, while most high school stadiums do not.

“It gets down to our ability to have the infrastructure and the staff in place at college and professional venues,” Northam said. “We don’t have that ability at high schools.”

Fans like Brent Johnson brave the long lines, cold weather and safety checkpoints just to be able to get a spot in the stands. Johnson says he is happy the governor is trusting the high school athletics programs and spectators enough to follow the safety guidelines so that restrictions could be eased.

“I’m proud the Governor is trusting in us to believe in him and to believe in his doctors and his team, and we’re getting after it right now - I like it,” Johnson said. “This is the first game I’ve been to all year on the east end, so I’m very excited.”

This will be in effect for the final games of the regular season as well as the playoffs, which last through the first weekend in May.

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