UVM athletics has no plans to curtail games, fan attendance

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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) Tuesday, the Ivy League canceled its basketball tournaments and Norwich women's hockey is set to play in an empty arena Wednesday night at Amherst College in Massachusetts. Should Vermont do the same?

UVM athletic director Jeff Schulman says they have no plans to cancel any games and they don't have any social distancing policies in place.

He says fans are welcome to keep attending games but they are asking them to use common sense and be mindful of other fans and the athletes by staying home if they don't feel well.

Schulman says they sent out a mass email to ticket holders Tuesday offering a full refund if they are feeling any flu-like symptoms and couldn't make it to the game. About ten people decided to stay home.

Schulman says the athletic department is following recommendations from the state department of health and the CDC and is confident they can keep athletes and spectators safe without canceling games.

"Cleaning the facility prior to the game, during the game and after the game. Hand sanitizers all throughout the facility, so we're confident that given the circumstances in our community right now that we can host their game and do it in a safe way," Schulman said.

Schulman says they're also encouraging fans not to touch, so no high fives or hand shaking.

Fans say they will keep attending sporting events, especially Saturday’s America East finals game, as long as it’s not canceled. They say they know things can change quickly and unexpectedly with the coronavirus but they plan to go to games as long as they’re feeling healthy.

A lot them don’t think there’s much to worry about at this point.

"You have to be aware of it obviously and you do kind of factor it in. Obviously, I'm here so I decided to show up and to me, it seems like a minimal risk at this point and hopefully I'm right,” said Bob Blanchard.

His brother Bob agreed.

"In this gym, you're packed in like sardines on these bleachers so it's like you're right next to— literally you're touching other people. But I think the risk is quite low so I wouldn't be here otherwise,” he said.

Linda Ready said people should practice proper precautions.

"I think people just need to be careful, keep a distance and if you're sick, don't come,” Ready said. “I'm not sick. I'm here. Go cats!"

WCAX News also spoke with Dr. Tim Lahey of UVMMC Infectious Diseases Clinician to find out if people should avoid other public places.

“Whether or not to avoid movie theaters, restaurants, or other public spaces, I think really depends on who you are right now. I went to a restaurant last night. I'm healthy and I felt that was safe. If I were immune-compromised, I might have stayed home,” said Dr. Lahey. “We know that the epidemic moves quickly and places like Lombardy and Italy really had massive public effect from this epidemic that closed down a bunch of functions and that if that happens here, then we'll deal with it. But we don't know if that's the case yet so it makes sense to just have life as usual if you're not immune-compromised and keeping your ear to the ground.”

Dr. Lahey also says the risk to the general public is low.