COLUMBUS (WJW) — We now know what some Cleveland Browns games will look like this year … at least from a fan’s standpoint. Today, Gov. Mike DeWine issued a spectator variance for a handful of upcoming NFL games set to be played in Ohio.
DeWine said that up to 6,000 fans will be allowed to cheer on their favorite Ohio teams at two home games (two for the Bengals, two for the Browns), but that only 1,500 fans will be allowed on each side of the stadium per game.
Fans must stay in compliance with social distancing guidelines while in attendance, and that includes wearing a mask at all times.
“This year will certainly be different, but both the Browns and the Bengals have worked exceedingly hard and have made extensive preparations to welcome a limited number of fans to their stadiums safely,” DeWine said in a statement. “These very thorough plans and safety precautions warrant a two-game trial to try and accommodate fans, at reduced capacities with social distancing and masks.”
Games that are affected as of now include:
- Sept. 17: Cincinnati Bengals at Cleveland Browns
- Sept. 27: Washington Football Team at Cleveland Browns
- Oct. 4: Jacksonville Jaguars at Cincinnati Bengals
- Oct. 25: Cleveland Browns at Cincinnati Bengals
“We greatly appreciate Governor DeWine and Mayor Jackson, along with the state and city health departments, for their support of our FirstEnergy Stadium Responsible Restart Plan,” a Browns spokesman wrote in a statement. “We are grateful for their collaboration and contributions throughout our process, as well as those of medical experts from the CDC, University Hospitals and Duke University, industry-leading venue consultants and the NFL, to craft a plan that will help create as safe as an environment as possible at the stadium for our players, coaches, gameday staff and fans.
“We are thrilled, particularly on behalf of our fans, that we received approval to welcome back a limited capacity of approximately 10 percent at FirstEnergy Stadium for our first two home games in September. We will continue to closely monitor the ever-evolving circumstances related to COVID-19 and remain in frequent dialogue with each of these groups so we can properly adapt as needed with the hopes of potentially allowing more fans to attend games at a later date, if circumstances allow.
“For the past four months, our organization has done extensive work in consultation with all of the stakeholders listed above to incorporate best practices and robust protocols that prioritize health and safety and allow for a reduced number of fans in the stadium for Browns games this fall. We are confident in our plan and our ability to execute it. We also fully recognize that education, collective buy-in and a commitment to shared responsibility are extremely important to the plan’s success, along with diligent cooperation and compliance from our fans.”
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