YOUNGSTOWN — A variance by the state will allow the Covelli Centre to host Youngstown Phantoms hockey games on Friday and Saturday night with up to 1,620 fans — despite the increase in COVID-19 cases.
The current Ohio indoor sports venue guidance during the coronavirus pandemic allow for less of either 300 individuals or 15 percent of fixed, seated capacity.
Melanie Amato, press secretary for the Ohio Department of Health, told Mahoning Matters a request for a variance for Youngstown Phantoms hockey was granted before Ohio’s most recent surge in COVID-19 cases.
The Youngstown City Health District received approval in October after requesting that 1,620 fans, including handicapped accessible seating, be approved for games. The total number of seats at the Covelli Centre is 6,109 and 15 percent capacity is 916 people.
The Ohio Department of Health approved the extra number of fans allowed in the arena based on the size of the Covelli Center and the safety protocols put in place.
Bishop said despite the surge in COVID-19 cases in Youngstown and Ohio, the ODH did not reverse the approval of the variance since there is a strict plan to keep fans and employees safe.
“The Ohio Department of Health would not have approved it if it wasn’t a good plan,” Bishop said.
The number of fans in a group can not exceed six individuals from the same family or party. All groups must have at least six feet of social distancing between them in all directions.
Fans must wear a mask at all times while in the Covelli Centre unless they are actively eating or drinking or are exempt from the state order for age, medical reasons or any other acceptable exemptions provided by the state of Ohio.
The Youngstown Phantoms play the Muskegon Lumberjacks at 7:05 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. Ticket information is available on the centre's website. The complete guidelines for COVID-19 safety information can be found at the Covelli Centre website.