SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 News) – When the University of Utah hosts Weber State Thursday evening, you’ll need a ticket to get in but you will not need a vaccination card, a negative COVID-19 test, or even a mask.
The season-opener will be the Utes’ first home game with fans since November 30, 2019.
“One of the biggest things last year that was part of the Covid was playing in empty stadiums,” Utes Head Coach Kyle Whittingham said Monday. “So it’s going to be great to get our fans back in there.”
It could be a record crowd with newly-expanded Rice-Eccles Stadium now holding 51,444 spectators.
Associate Athletic Director Paul Kirk told ABC4 that the university is “strongly encouraging” fans to wear masks but because state law can’t require them. Attendees will not be asked to show a vaccination card or a negative test.
“It’s a bad idea, we’re still in a pandemic,” U of U freshman Jacie Lee said. “Like people’s lives are at risk.”
“It makes me feel kind of unsafe,” freshman Johnson Pham said.
“The cases are rising,” a student named Abida said. “So I think they should require masks at least.”
With the intensive care unit at the University of Utah hospital at 100 percent capacity and Salt Lake County in the High Transmission level, some worry that a massive crowd could lead to a future spike in cases.
“With 51,000 people packed in there, I personally, I work in healthcare, I suspect the infectivity rate of the Delta strain or Delta variant is going to be relatively high,” junior Biology Major Warren McCarthy said. “If say, we had a hundred or two hundred people unknowingly carrying the Delta variant inside the stadium, being in close proximity, that could indicate a new super spreader event.”
Five Football Bowl Subdivision (Division I-A) schools will require proof of vaccination or a negative test for fans this fall, including Utah’s fellow Pac-12 members Oregon and Oregon State.