Virginia Tech requiring fans to wear masks in Lane Stadium — just not at their seats

Friday night’s season opener against UNC is a sold-out crowd

Hokies fan will be required to mask up at Friday's football game, but health officials are urging caution to the sporting event.

BLACKSBURG, Va. – Virginia Tech will require fans to wear masks in certain areas of Lane Stadium at Friday’s football game. The Hokies will host UNC in front of a sold-out crowd, despite the region having high transmission of COVID-19.

Football is back and fans are excited. After a year of fans being locked out from games due to COVID-19 precautions, head coach Justin Fuente said he’s ready to see them back in the stands.

“I can’t wait to be back in our stadium with a sold-out crowd, you know it will be an emotional time, it’s just been a long time since we’ve all been together again,” Fuente said.

But local health officials are urging caution as nearly the entire state is experiencing high transmission rates of the virus. Dr. Noelle Bissell of the local health district said while the game is outdoors, it’s not a typical outdoor setting.

“(It’s) a situation where you’ve got a lot of people, I don’t know how many tens of thousands are going to be in that stadium, they’re going to be yelling and screaming and cheering, that’s a situation where it would probably benefit to have people who can put on masks,” said Bissell.

Virginia Tech will require fans to wear masks in public spaces at the game. That doesn’t include their seat, but basically everywhere else.

“Public spaces are for example, causeways, breezeways, elevators, restrooms, concessions, gift shops, things of that nature. You need to bring a mask, you need to wear a mask,” Virginia Tech spokesman Mark Owczarski said.

The university wouldn’t go as far as saying fans will be removed for non-compliance, just they’ll be given a mask and told to wear it. Although it is encouraging people to wear masks the entire day.

“So much of what you’re asking has to do with knowing and thinking before you come, what you’ll be doing, who you’ll be doing it with, so you can make the right smart decisions for yourself,” Owczarski said.

A vaccine clinic will be set up outside the stadium. While officials know that won’t help for the first game, they said it will help in weeks to come.