When the University of Maine football team hosts Villanova on April 3, fans may be allowed to attend the Colonial Athletic Association game.
Gov. Janet Mills on Friday unveiled a plan that will relax some of the state’s COVID-19 safety protocols in regard to gathering limits both indoors and outdoors.
With the number of coronavirus cases declining and more Mainers getting vaccinated, Mills announced that the state is moving later this month to a percent-of-capacity model for gatherings.
Starting March 26, the limit for outdoor events will be increased to 75 percent of capacity instead of 100 persons, while the indoor limit will expand from 50 people to 50 percent of capacity. Those numbers are expected to be expanded to 100 percent and 75 percent, respectively, before Memorial Day.
The new rules should enable UMaine football, along with its other sports, to have spectators in attendance for their spring games. Traditional fall sports have joined the spring programs this year after the pandemic delayed the fall campaign.
The decision will be made by UMaine President Joan Ferrini-Mundy in consultation with other university administrators.
“We are excited about the news from the governor today,” UMaine spokesperson Dan Demeritt said. “The University of Maine System will be taking the next several days to assess the information and will be updating its guidance next week.”
The 50-person limit for indoor activities has prevented both UMaine hockey teams from playing any home games this winter.
The men and women’s basketball teams have played home games at Memorial Gymnasium on the Orono campus, rather than at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor, but fans have not been allowed.
The UMaine football team had been given the green light by the state to host its three home games, even though the 100-person limit in effect will be exceeded by players, coaches, support staff, officials and game management personnel.
The Black Bears’ home opener is set for Saturday, March 13. Fans will not be allowed to attend, since the higher limits will not yet be in effect.
If spectators are approved for UMaine outdoor home games, there will be contests involving women’s soccer (April 4), field hockey (March 28), baseball (March 28, April 2-3) and softball (April 10-11).