SEC will leave fan attendance up to schools, local health officials but require masks

ATHENS, Ga. — The Southeastern Conference released a set of guidelines for its 14 members to follow if fans attend games this fall.

The SEC says it will leave the decision up to the schools on whether to allow fans based on information from their local and state health departments.

However, the conference did issue a mask mandate for when fans are allowed. The same mandate applies to the athletic staff and stadium workers, who will be required to wear face coverings at all times.

“These fan guidelines have been adopted by the 14 member schools of the Southeastern Conference as baseline recommendations for the campus management of fan health and safety,” SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey said in a release. “Although local and state guidelines will determine if and how many fans can attend games, these guidelines provide conference-wide expectations for protection of guests who are able to attend our games.”


Along with the mask mandate, each stadium will have to move to digital-only tickets and put social distancing rules in place. The SEC is also letting each school decide if it will allow tailgating and pre-game celebrations such as Georgia’s Dawg Walk.

Channel 2′s Tom Jones spoke with Georgia fans about their thoughts on the SEC guidelines.

Charlie Brown and his wife Delanie have been season ticket holders since 1976. He said there is nothing like walking into Sanford Stadium and soaking up the atmosphere.

“You go to the stadium and you get goosebumps. No matter how many years you been in there, when the team takes the field the hair stands up on your arm,” Brown said.

The Browns also organized a big tailgate before every game. But Brown is willing to give up his tailgate party if it means it will keep people safe.

“Usually we have over 30 to 60 people at a tailgate,” he said. “If we can’t have it this year and it’s gonna get rid of this monster, so be it. We’re all having to make sacrifices.”

Georgia’s first home game isn’t until Oct. 3 when it hosts the “Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry” game against Auburn. There are three more home games on the schedule: Oct. 10 vs. Tennessee, Nov. 21 vs. Mississippi State and Dec. 5 vs. Vanderbilt.

Here are more of the guidelines issued by the conference Tuesday:

  • Barriers (e.g., plexiglass) shall be installed at all points-of-sale or otherwise all concessions staff shall wear a face shield plus a mask; “Grab and go” food/beverage options should be considered at points-of-sale locations.
  • Signage shall be installed at parking lots, pedestrian paths to the stadium, gates and/or other ingress/entry points that outlines mandates for all guests to wear face coverings, maintain physical distancing and mandates guests do not enter the stadium if they display any COVID-19 symptoms as outlined by the CDC.
  • “Suite hopping” shall be prohibited; Furniture shall be arranged in clubs to promote physical distancing.