The Florida Gators will permit just 17,000 fans in The Swamp for football games in 2020, the program announced on Thursday.
And in addition to that, every member of the Gator Nation in attendance in Gainesville will need to adhere to other protocols — including wearing a mask at all times when not eating or drinking.
To comply with physical distancing requirements, Ben Hill Griffin Stadium will host approximately 20 percent of its listed capacity of 88,548 in the bowl and club levels, putting the capacity right at 17,000.
In accordance with campus guidelines, face coverings (over the nose and mouth) will be required for all fans throughout the entire game. This includes when fans are entering and exiting the stadium. Fans may only remove face coverings while eating or drinking. Failure to comply with this important health guideline could result in loss of ticket privileges.
The dramatic reduction in capacity puts Florida in line with much of the rest of its brethren in the SEC, who are generally setting their capacity around 20 percent in an effort to make sure their fans will not be exposed to — or expose others to — COVID-19. (A crowd of 17,000 fans, however, is technically closer to 19 percent capacity of that 88,548 figure than 20 percent.)
Florida’s other major measures to fight the spread of the novel coronavirus while simultaneously congregating thousands of people include a ban on tailgating — and many of the tailgating-adjacent events fans have come to cherish from Saturdays in Gainesville, including the Gator Walk and Gators Fan Fest — and a mobile ticketing requirement.
Florida will also require strict physical distancing of six feet between groups at all times.
The release does also note that this is a fluid situation — which is a reminder that conditions could improve and result in a relaxation of some restrictions or get worse, requiring even stricter restrictions.
More details are available in the release, which also promises that information on “notable changes to parking, ticketing, stadium entry gates, concessions, and other stadium operations” is still forthcoming.
Florida’s home opener is scheduled for October 3 against South Carolina.