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Why hundreds can go to the state football championships despite Idaho’s new COVID-19 order

Why hundreds can go to the state football championships despite Idaho’s new COVID-19 order

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Mountain View High fans got creative to get around the Boise School District’s ban on fans, climbing atop ladders outside the fence at East Junior High for a state quarterfinal against Capital.

BOISE — Idaho’s latest state health order limits gatherings to 10 people or fewer. But that won’t apply to the Idaho high school football state championships Saturday.

Three local health districts approved an exemption for those games at Madison, Middleton and Twin Falls high schools.

Those three schools can allow a limited number of fans that keeps stadium capacity under 15% and allows for social distancing, said Ty Jones, the executive director of the Idaho High School Activities Association.

“Our main goal throughout this entire thing was to get the parents of the kids there, and to be able do that safely,” Jones said. “We’ve been able to accomplish that with all our state events this year, and we just wanted to see if we can do that one more weekend.”

Timing proved to be a key factor in allowing fans to attend.

The current state order drops Idaho back to Stage 2 and tightens gathering restrictions. But it allows a path for events approved under Stage 3 guidelines (25% of capacity in outdoor venues) to continue until Sunday.

The state football championships qualified for that exemption, said Brianna Bodily, a spokesperson for the Twin Falls-based South Central Public Health District.

“If our state championships occurred on the 29th of November, we would not get that exemption,” Jones said.

How many can attend the state football championships?

Rexburg’s Madison High, home of the 5A and 2A state championships, will allow up to 400 fans per team. Its new stadium seats 5,700, Madison High Athletic Director Shayne Proctor said.

Middleton High, home to the 4A and 3A finals, will allow 275 fans per team in its 4,000-seat stadium. And the 1A Division I and 1A Division II championship games can have up to 200 fans per team at Twin Falls High.

All three sites will require fans to wear a mask or a facial covering to enter the stadium. And the host sites will clear the stadium between games to prevent fans from different teams mingling.

“It’s important to note there is a very big difference in space there,” Bodily said. “A stadium capable of holding several thousand people at 10% of capacity is different than a living room with 10 people.

“Throughout this whole pandemic, one huge factor is can you social distance? The size of the venue is crucial. It really is.”

Where can I get tickets?

The IHSAA will sell all tickets to the games online. No tickets will be available at the game to eliminate crowding at the gates.

Schools received first access to tickets, giving their parents and fans a chance to buy tickets before anyone else. Any tickets remaining will go on sale to the public at noon Friday.

“Truthfully, I don’t expect there to be any tickets left,” Jones said.

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