No COVID-19 mandates planned for Georgia’s Sanford Stadium

Credit: Alyssa Pointer

Credit: Alyssa Pointer

ATHENS — Don’t expect Georgia to follow the lead of LSU when it comes to attending football games at its stadium this year.

The Tigers on Tuesday announced that they will require all guests 12 years old and older to provide proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken within 72 hours before entry to be able attend games at Tiger Stadium.

A UGA spokesman confirmed Tuesday that, as it stands now, the school plans to be completely back to normal this fall for home football games, with capacity crowds of 92,746 at Sanford Stadium. There will be no masks or social-distancing requirements this year, and Georgia will not be asking for proof of vaccination to enter the grounds. Tailgating also is being permitted this season.

Last year, because of the pandemic, UGA limited seating to just over 20,000, and masks were required.

The No. 5-ranked Bulldogs don’t play at home until Sept. 11, when they play host to Alabama-Birmingham. However, a mask mandate will be in place when Georgia opens the season against No. 3 Clemson on Sept. 4 in Charlotte, N.C.

That highly anticipated matchup in the Duke’s Mayo Classic will be played at Bank of America Stadium, home of the Carolina Panthers. Like all NFL venues, masks will be required to enter the stadium and while in enclosed areas. The city of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County also recently passed an ordinance requiring masks indoors in the greater metropolitan area.

The University of Georgia, like all state universities, follows the lead of the University of System of Georgia. As of this week, that body has called for a return to in-person instruction. About 50,000 people encompassing students, faculty and staff returned to campus last week and fall classes began Aug. 18.

Meanwhile, vaccinations are being highly encouraged throughout the UGA community. In addition to vaccine appointments being available at the University Health Center, mobile clinics have been set up around campus, and they’re incentivizing students with offers of $20 gift cards and T-shirts to get vaccinated. Student vaccination rates reportedly were about 50% when campus reopened in mid-August.

This past weekend, Georgia football coach Kirby Smart said the Bulldogs’ vaccination rate was now over 90%, though a few dozen walk-ons and team managers have joined the team since classes began.