Gov. Tom Wolf announced new guidelines for occupancy limits for indoor and outdoor events Tuesday. Under the new guidelines, venues such as sports stadiums will be able to accommodate more guests, but they will still be required to enforce maximum seating capacities far less than what was normal in the pre-pandemic era.
The previous guidance from Wolf and his administration allowed for a maximum of 25 people at indoor events and 250 people at outdoor events.
The new occupancy limits are scaled based on the venue’s maximum occupancy.
The guidance for indoor events are as follows:
|Maximum Occupancy||Allowable Indoor Rate|
|0-2,000 people||20% of Maximum Occupancy|
|2,001 – 10,000 people||15% of Maximum Occupancy|
|Over 10,000 people||10% of Maximum Occupancy, up to 3,750 people|
The guidance for outdoor events are as follows:
|Maximum Occupancy||Allowable Outdoor Rate|
|0-2,000 people||25% of Maximum Occupancy|
|2,001 – 10,000 people||20% of Maximum Occupancy|
|Over 10,000 people||15% of Maximum Occupancy up to 7,500 people|
The new guidelines go into effect Friday, Oct. 9 at 12:01 a.m., which means they will take effect before this weekend’s slate of high school football games are played.
Whether they will impact district restrictions on spectatorship before this weekend’s games are played remains to be seen.
Saucon Valley Athletic Director Bob Frey said that although the changes will give them more leeway, it will still be up to individual school districts to determine expanded seating capacity–if any–at football games and other athletic events.
The current limit of 250 people meant that no spectators were present at Friday’s Saucon Valley football game, although thousands of people were able to watch it live on YouTube thanks to a livestreaming partnership between Saucon Athletics and Saucon Source.
Frey estimated that under the new limit, as many as 250 spectators could potentially attend future football games at Montford E. Illick Stadium.
The stadium has a maximum seating capacity of approximately 2,500 people, so under the new guideline a total of 500 people–or 20 percent of the maximum occupancy–could be present. That number includes football players from both teams, band members, cheerleaders, coaching staff and members of the media, in addition to spectators.
“Two-hundred-fifty people in the stands still gives us plenty of room,” Frey said, referring to the social distancing that must be maintained by guests at all venues due to COVID-19.
State officials stressed that venues will have to comply with distancing requirements as well as the state’s face mask order and follow best practices for limiting the potential for coronavirus exposure. Those practices will include the use of timed entry, the use of multiple entry and exit points, and requirements for multiple restrooms and hygiene stations to be in place.
“Regardless of the size of an event or gathering, those things are still imperative to stopping the spread of COVID,” Wolf said in a statement Tuesday. “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.”
Some of the governor’s restrictions due to COVID-19 were struck down last month by U.S. District Judge William Stickman as “unconstitutional.” However, a federal appeals court last Thursday issued a stay on Stickman’s order pending an appeal by the Wolf administration.