Fans will not be allowed to attend Saturday’s University of Maine football game against Villanova at Morse Field in Alfond Stadium despite Maine Gov. Janet Mills’ plan to relax COVID-19 protocols that was announced earlier this month.
Mills unveiled a plan that went into effect on March 26 that increased the number of people allowed to attend an outdoor event from 100 persons to 75 percent of a venue’s capacity.
Dan Demeritt, the University of Maine System’s executive director of public affairs, said the university opted in its guidance to postpone that increase at its facilities until April 5.
He said the university will assess future operational plans in the coming weeks.
“We’re headed in the right direction but we still want to be cautious,” Demeritt said.
UMaine does have one remaining home football game on April 17 against the University of New Hampshire.
UMaine was able to host a football game against Albany on March 13 without fans thanks to an agreement with the state that allowed four separate pods of 50 people at an outdoor event. The groups had to be separated by at least 14 feet and there were physical barriers in place to prevent mingling.
Demeritt said that despite a recent decrease in COVID-19 cases, there are still a significant number on UMaine’s Orono campus, so administrators wanted to keep the students and faculty as safe as possible.
There were 71 cases on Friday and 45 on Monday.
Demeritt said the school is maintaining its six-foott social distancing protocol.
In addition to football, the UMaine baseball team is entertaining Binghamton for a four-game series on Friday and Saturday and the women’s soccer team is hosting Vermont on Sunday in its regular-season finale.
The softball team won’t play its home-opening series until April 10 against Hartford. It is one of three home series scheduled in Orono this spring.
The baseball team will have three more home series after the Binghamton set.
The field hockey team has two home games remaining, April 11 against Albany and April 18 against Califoria-Davis.
UMaine’s traditional fall sports were delayed until spring due to the pandemic.
UMaine’s basketball teams were able to play home games last winter by adhering to a 50-person limit on indoor gatherings that has since been expanded to 50 percent capacity by Gov. Mills.
Those numbers are expected to be increased to 100 percent (outdoors) and 75 percent (indoors) before Memorial Day.
The UMaine ice hockey teams played all of their games on the road until the last contest of the season. The men’s team finally was allowed, by mutual agreement of state agencies and UMaine officials, to host New Hampshire for a Hockey East playoff game that divided Alfond Arena into two pods that included no more than 50 people in each.