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More spectators can attend G-A sporting events

Shawn Hardy
Echo Pilot
Greencastle-Antrim's Kiersten Britner went for the ball during Monday's varsity field hockey game against Shippensburg. Shippensburg won 2-1 in the overtime matchup. ANDREW JACKSON/G-AHS YEARBOOK STAFF

New guidance from Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf and Dr. Rachel Levine, secretary of health, is a game-changer for spectators at Greencastle-Antrim sporting events.

On Tuesday, the state officials adjusted the number of people who can attend events and gatherings with a calculation based on the venue's maximum permitted occupancy under the National Fire Protection Association Life Safety Code.

The previous limit was 250 people for outdoor gatherings and 25 for indoor events. The new guidelines are 25% capacity for outdoors and 20% for indoors when the maximum occupancy is 2,000 or less.

While the Kaley Field stands still won't be packed for Friday night football, all student athletes can now have at least a couple of spectators per game beginning Friday, Oct. 9.

When the Blue Devils' delayed sports season opened last month, the school district followed a plan to provide athletes with tickets for spectators on a limited basis based on the number of players and support staff for each sport. For example, sophomore and junior football players were allotted two spectator tickets for one game during the season and each senior player was allotted two tickets for two games. Now they all are allowed two tickets for every game.

The biggest change is for volleyball. Under the 25-person limit, not even all the players could be in gym during a match. Now, each player can have two spectators at each game, with additional tickets available at the door.

"We are thrilled to announce updated guidelines for accommodating spectators at our sporting or performance events," Dr. Lura Hanks, superintendent, and Vicki Ritchey, athletic director, said in a letter to G-A School District families on Tuesday, which outlined the new plan:

FOOTBALL

Capacity 400

2 spectators per player/participant (includes cheerleaders and band)

No visiting spectators

VOLLEYBALL

Capacity 180

2 spectators per player for both home and visiting teams

Additional tickets up to the capacity will be available at the door

FIELD HOCKEY & SOCCER

Capacity 400

4 tickets per player – home team

2 tickets per player – visiting team

Additional tickets may be purchased at the gate up to the capacity.

"Masks will be required at all events as well as 6-foot distancing," Hanks and Ritchey wrote. "We thank you for your ongoing support in helping us to adhere to the safety guidelines of the state and health department."

“Pennsylvanians must continue to social distance and wear masks as we prepare to fight the virus through the fall and winter,” Wolf said in a news release issued Tuesday by the Department of Health. “Regardless of the size of an event or gathering, those things are still imperative to stopping the spread of COVID. We know everyone has sacrificed in many ways and today’s announcement reflects a gradual adjustment to our lives as we learn how we can do things safely until we have a cure, or an effective vaccine is widely available."

“We will closely monitor cases and outbreaks and if our case investigation and contact tracing efforts determine that events or gatherings are the source of an outbreak, we can and will dial back these new limits,” Levine cautioned. “Public health and safety are our first concern and will always remain as such.”

Events and gatherings

The change announced Tuesday applies to events and gatherings, but not businesses or classrooms.

"An event or gathering is defined as a temporary grouping of individuals for defined purposes that takes place over a limited timeframe, such as hours or days, including fairs, festivals, concerts, or shows and groupings that occur within larger, more permanent businesses, such as shows or performances within amusement parks, individual showings of movies, business meetings or conferences, or each party or reception within a multi-room venue," according to the news release from the department of health.

"Conversely, groups of people who share a space within a building in the ordinary course of operations, such as in an office building, classroom, production floor or similar regularly occurring operation of a business or organization, are not events or gatherings," the news release said.

Businesses are still required to conduct their operations remotely when they can. If that is not possible, they must comply with the state business safety, worker safety and masking orders.