Schools study crowd capacities for sports

By ELIOT DUKE
Of the Record staff
Posted 3/2/21

Now that Gov. Roy Cooper eased restrictions on crowds, Harnett County Schools is figuring out how many people can return to sporting events.

Cooper’s latest executive order allowed …

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Schools study crowd capacities for sports

Posted

Now that Gov. Roy Cooper eased restrictions on crowds, Harnett County Schools is figuring out how many people can return to sporting events.

Cooper’s latest executive order allowed spectators back into games, concerts and amusements parks under conditional capacity requirements. Outdoor events like high school football, which made its return last week following more than a yearlong break, are limited to 30% of the facility’s stated fire capacity or 7 guests for every 1,000 square feet. Indoor events also can hold 30% of fire capacity but have a maximum of 250 people for each room or space. Larger indoor venues may exceed the max amount with additional safety measures in place.

“Over the past month, North Carolina has experienced improvement in key COVID-19 metrics,” Cooper’s executive order stated. “Due to public health measures taken within the state, enhanced knowledge of the COVID-19 virus by public health experts, and the persistence of North Carolinians in adhering to executive orders and public health guidance, it is necessary to continue with the ‘dimmer switch’ approach in reopening the state.”

HCS Deputy Superintendent W. Brooks Matthews on Monday night told the board of education that the school system and the fire marshal’s office are in contact and discussing possible crowd sizes at the county’s four high schools — Triton, Western Harnett, Overhills and Harnett Central.

“The fire marshal is working ... to establish capacity numbers in all of our stadiums, auditoriums, gyms, etc. so we can determine accurate capacity numbers as these facilities are able to be used,” said Matthews. “And as the percentages of occupancy increase or the COVID restrictions are relaxed.”

Board Chairman Eddie Jaggers asked about ticket allotment with a limited supply available, and Matthews said the individual schools would make the final call.

“That could vary by site,” Matthews said. “It could be first-come, first-serve. Triton, for example, has an online ticket sales program they work with. There are some schools that for awhile were not allowing visiting fans to attend. It does vary a little bit depending on which site.”

Cooper’s executive order applied only to spectators and did not include coaches, referees or other game-day staff like concessions in the capacity requirements.

Matthews said fans, however, will be required to stay in their seats.

“That’s going to be hard to enforce,” board member Don Godfrey said.

Matthews said staff at the gate do not plan on turning a couple away should only one seat be available.

Cooper’s order placed a 50% capacity limit on places such as restaurants, gyms, fitness centers, pools, museums, salons, tattoo parlors, bowling centers and skating rinks.

Eliot Duke can be reached at eduke@mydailyrecord.com or at 910-230-2038.

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