Virginia Tech, Blacksburg to prohibit fall tailgating; Hokie fans asked to ‘homegate’ instead

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BLACKSBURG, Va. (WFXR) — While autumn and tailgating practically go hand-in-hand in a college town like Blacksburg, Virginia Tech announced Tuesday tailgating will be prohibited in both university and town parking lots and public spaces for the fall season in order to protect public health.

According to Virginia Tech’s news release on Tuesday, Sept. 1, this decision to prohibit tailgating applies not only to football games, but also any other fall sporting event such as soccer, volleyball, and cross country.

However, this ban on public tailgating does not prevent Hokie fans from cheering on their favorite team. In fact, Virginia Tech is asking football fans to “homegate” with family members or pandemic pods in order to enjoy each game in a safe way.

“Football weekends and tailgate gatherings are cherished traditions for Virginia Tech and our community,” said Virginia Tech President Tim Sands. “I appreciate the input and support of athletic director Whit Babcock and community leaders as we came to this difficult conclusion. Though it is disappointing for all of us as we look forward to fall football, protecting public health remains our primary goal, and the foundation of the decisions we make.”

In order to enforce this tailgating ban, officials say all Virginia Tech parking lots will continue to be monitored on game days. In addition, Virginia Tech Police are prepared to enforce this decision to prohibit tailgating for anyone who chooses not to comply, the school says.

“Public gatherings, especially those in which people are not wearing face coverings and not physically distant, will significantly contribute to the spread of COVID-19,” said Noelle Bissell, health director of the New River Valley Health District. “Our community has been working diligently to preserve public health, and it is making a difference. This decision, while difficult, will help maintain our progress and prevent future outbreaks.”

According to the university, Blacksburg officials say they will also enforce virus-related ordinances that restrict gatherings of people — especially gatherings where participants are not wearing masks or socially distancing themselves from others.

“It’s so important for the town and the university to work together on this because we both want to protect our communities,” said Leslie Hager-Smith, mayor of the Town of Blacksburg. “Game days are special to our community, too, and we look forward to the time when we can come together again and enjoy Hokie football together. However, the pandemic requires us to make different, difficult decisions to preserve public health.”

Officials at Virginia Tech will keep working through plans for the fall athletics program based on public health guidelines; guidance from the NCAA, the ACC, and the Commonwealth of Virginia; and the health and safety status of the athletes, staff members, and overall community.

To find out more about the Virginia Tech fall sports season, click here.

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