COLUMBIA, SC (WSPA) — For the next two home games, University of South Carolina fans will need to wear masks to get into and watch the game.
Face coverings are required during football games at Williams-Brice Stadium under a 30-day mask ordinance passed by Columbia City Council on September 8th.
The ordinance requires masks indoors around the city and extends to ‘crowded outdoor spaces’. According to the ordinance, this includes the stadium, busy sidewalks, and other popular outdoor areas where it is impractical or impossible to maintain six feet of distance at all times.
School officials began notifying students and fans this week about the requirement. They said the city is in charge of enforcing the ordinance and anyone violating it could be fined $100.
Columbia Fire Chief Aubrey Jenkins said city fire marshals are normally at all home games. He said, “We don’t want people thinking we are out there just to issue citations. That’s the very last thing we want to do. We’ll be out there trying to educate first and then enforce the ordinance to keep people safe.”
Chief Jenkins said since the ordinance was enacted, they haven’t issued any citations around the city. He said they’re hopeful they won’t have to give out any during games scheduled while the 30-day ordinance is in place.
There are exceptions for anyone under the age of 5, or while drinking, eating, or when wearing a face covering causes or aggravates a health condition.
Last football season masks were required, Cheif Jenkins said this year will be a little different since the stadium is at full capacity.
“You’ll have 60-70-80,000 people coming together. It is going to be extremely difficult for us to enforce this in that type of environment,” Jenkins went on to say, “My hope is that they’ll periodically make announcements about the ordinance and get people to buy in.”
According to Jenkins, city fire marshals will remind fans to put on a mask and will make the call on whether they write a citation for fans not wearing masks. He said he doesn’t anticipate assigning fire marshals to walk up and down the stadium steps looking for people without masks.
The University of South Carolina’s next home game is Sept. 25th vs the University of Kentucky Wildcats.