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'Not there yet': Gov. Mike DeWine says he hasn't made a decision yet on allowing fans at Cleveland Browns games

DeWine referred to the proposal submitted by the Browns as a 'good plan.'

COLUMBUS, Ohio — On Wednesday, the Cleveland Browns released their lengthy plan for the 2020 football season at FirstEnergy Stadium, which features numerous safety protocols due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Within the plan, the Browns say they are hoping to be able to have a limited number of fans at games this fall, but that decision is going to be up to Gov. Mike DeWine.

During his COVID-19 press conference on Thursday, DeWine said he is not quite ready to make a ruling on the Browns' proposal. 

"We've got to take a deep breath and see exactly where we are before we make a decision about professional sports allowing fans," the governor said. "But it's a good plan."

The Browns plan involves the following seven safety principals:

  • Physical separation of at least six feet of social distancing
  • Requirement of masks or other face coverings [TT1] for all individuals (age 10+)
  • Health screening, including via a Fan Health Promise that requires pre-event self-health screenings for all fans, and on-site temperature checks and health questionnaires for all staff
  • Enhanced cleaning and disinfecting protocols throughout the venue
  • Comprehensive hygiene protocols for all fans and staff
  • Extensive training, signage and communication
  • Accountability, flexibility and compliance protocols to provide oversight and adapt to evolving circumstances

The team's plan includes "a number of significant changes to gameday operations, including the requirement of facial coverings, a quadrant system that separates fans into specific zones with a dedicated gate based on their seating location, recommended time windows for entry, pre-game health screenings and ticket distribution in 'pods of known fans' for the reduced capacity of fans that will be at the stadium if approved."

"There certainly are possibilities as we look at this season to do something," DeWine added. "It would certainly be at a much reduced number of fans." 

The governor referred to the proposals by both the Browns and Cincinnati Bengals as 'doable plans, very professionally done, very thoughtful.' He added quickly, "Not there yet, but we're going to continue to look and see at what point we could do this."

The Browns said Wednesday that their overall capacity will be significantly limited this season to comply with government and NFL requirements.

"The overarching goal of the Responsible Restart Plan is to enable a limited capacity of fans to return to FirstEnergy Stadium while also prioritizing the health and safety of everyone, including players, coaches, fans, gameday staff and others involved in the gameday experience," Browns officials said in a press release.