Browns, Bengals to play 2 games apiece before up to 6,000 fans in pandemic

A select number of pro football fans will be allowed to attend a limited number of games in Ohio in the 2020 NFL season despite the coronavirus pandemic.

Gov. Mike DeWine announced Saturday the Cleveland Browns and Cincinnati Bengals each may have up to a total 6,000 fans in the stands at two predetermined home games on the season, but the games aren’t exactly against marquee teams.

Fans may attend the two AFC North divisional clashes between the two Ohio franchises — Sept. 17 when the Bengals visit Cleveland and Oct. 24 when the Browns travel to Cincinnati.

Fans also will be allowed at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland when the Browns host the Washington Football Team on Sept. 27, and at the Bengals’ game against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Oct. 4 at Paul Brown Stadium.

No fans will be allowed in the stands for the Bengals’ home opener against the Los Angeles Chargers on Sept. 13.

The variance to the state sports order requires no more than 1,500 spectators on each side of the stadium. Fans must wear masks.

Both stadiums can accommodate about 65,000 fans.

“This year will certainly be different, but both the Browns and the Bengals have worked exceedingly hard and have made extensive preparations to welcome a limited number of fans to their stadiums safely,” DeWine said. “These very thorough plans and safety precautions warrant a two-game trial to try and accommodate fans, at reduced capacities with social distancing and masks.”

DeWine’s statement made no mention of expanding the variance to future games should the trial runs go well.

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