Navy's Brigade of Midshipmen can attend Saturday's home game between Navy and Temple at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium after state and local officials in Maryland lifted some attendance restrictions in place because of the coronavirus pandemic, Navy announced on Thursday.
No fans, families or guests are allowed, but this is the first time this season Maryland governor Larry Hogan and U.S. Naval Academy Superintendent Vice Admiral Sean Buck have allowed the 4,400-member student body to attend a game. Saturday is Navy's second home game of the season.
"We were pleased to work closely with Naval Academy leaders to allow the Brigade of Midshipmen to safely attend this weekend's football game," Hogan said in a prepared statement. "It gives us a great deal of pride to have the Naval Academy here in the State of Maryland, and I want to thank Vice Admiral Buck for prioritizing testing protocols and developing a plan that puts the health and safety of the Midshipmen first."
According to a news release from Navy, the Midshipmen will sit socially distanced by company with small roommate pods allowed to sit together, and will wear masks the entire game. Stadium personnel and law enforcement officers are also required to use masks. The restrooms will be limited to 50% capacity, and hand sanitizer and sanitizing wipes will be provided throughout the stadium.
All Midshipmen, support staff and stadium personnel will also be asked to go through symptom and temperature screening. Parking lots will also be closed to pregame and postgame tailgating. Event security staff will monitor seating and concourse areas to ensure compliance with social distancing protocols.
"We greatly appreciate the consideration taken by state and local officials in approving our request for the Brigade of Midshipmen to safely cheer on our football team in the stands this weekend," said Vice Admiral Sean Buck. "I want to extend my personal thanks to Governor Hogan and Anne Arundel County Executive [Steuart] Pittman for trusting the Naval Academy to develop and execute a game day plan that safeguards the health of our midshipmen as well as the local community and state of Maryland."
Since late August, USNA has been performing surveillance testing of the Brigade, reporting a 0% positivity rate on Sept. 30. Additionally, in-season varsity sport teams are tested three times per week. No football players on the sideline roster have tested positive to date.