Masks required in Charlotte for Georgia-Clemson; will affect parts of stadium

ATHENS – If you’re planning to go to Charlotte for Georgia-Clemson, be sure to pack a mask.

The Board of Health of Mecklenburg County – which encompasses Greater Charlotte and five other North Carolina towns -- passed a mask mandate at a specially called meeting Wednesday night. That follows by a day a mandate issued by the City of Charlotte that masks be worn at all times while indoors, regardless of an individual’s vaccination status.

Masks do not have to be worn outdoors, which includes the seating areas inside Bank of America Stadium. That’s where No. 3 Clemson and No. 5 Georgia will do battle in the Duke’s Mayo Classic on Sept. 4 (7:30 p.m., ABC-TV). However, masks will have to be worn inside the concourses and all enclosed areas in the stadium.

Appalachian State and East Carolina will play in Bank of America Stadium – home of the Carolina Panthers – on Thursday night in the first game of the Duke’s Mayo Classic under the same restrictions.

“We’re very excited about the games, and we’ll be following Bank of America Stadium protocols,” Charlotte Sports Foundation director Danny Morrison said Thursday. “It’s going to be a great weekend, and we’re going to have a lot of fun.”

Morrison emphasized that most of the activities they have planned for the weekend are outside, where masks are not required. They’re hosting a three-day fan festival on Mint Street starting Thursday and an outdoor concert featuring Warwick McKeeby and Ingrid Andress on Friday night. Meanwhile, ESPN’s “College GameDay” will set up in Romare Bearden Park next to the stadium Friday and broadcasts live on ESPN from 9 a.m. until noon Saturday. Details about all the weekend events can be found on the Duke’s Mayo Classic’s website.

However, all the restaurants, bars and hotels in and around Charlotte will be requiring masks.

“We are also doing this to support the people who work in our city, and this is a way for our businesses to remain open,” Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles said. “We will work with and support our business community through this time.”

Bank of America’s mask policy, which was implemented by the Charlotte Panthers, mirrors the one the Falcons have implemented at Mercedes-Benz Stadium and is expected to be standard operating procedure throughout the NFL this fall.

So far at least, such mandates haven’t impeded the participation for the highly anticipated Clemson-Georgia game. Expected to be one of the top matchups in college football in 2021, the game is a solid sellout, with lower-level tickets going for as much as $1,000 each on the secondary market.

In the meantime, the University of Georgia has not issued masks mandates or any other restrictions for its home games at Sanford Stadium this season. The Bulldogs play the first of six games there against Alabama-Birmingham on Sept. 11. At this point, tailgating will be allowed before the games and the athletic association is preparing for capacity crowds of 92,746.

Last year, UGA limited attendance to 20,524 to adhere to SEC social-distancing requirements and masks were required to enter the gates and move around the facility.