Local leaders warn against large gatherings for first Badgers game of the year

MADISON, Wis. — Friday marks the first Badgers football game day of the year, and local leaders are asking people to be mindful about any large gatherings they may be having on game night.

There won’t be any fans in the stands at Camp Randall Stadium, but some bars and restaurants are still expecting some people to show up for the game.

Earlier this week, Dr. Jeff Pothof of UW Health warned against large gatherings for the game, saying they could easily become “super spreader” events if people didn’t wear masks and socially distance.

Because of those COVID concerns, Madison police and local health officials warned businesses and houses in the campus area about hosting tailgate parties for Friday night’s game. Local gathering orders will be enforced, which in Dane County means outdoor gatherings are capped at 25 people, while indoor gatherings are capped at 10 people.

“We’ve been working as a department with bars across the Regent Street area as well as houses there, and visiting houses and talking to folks about best practices on how to reduce the spread of COVID-19, because we’re seeing these increased case levels across the community,” said Public Health Madison and Dane County director of operations Kate Austin-Stanford.

Fines for violating the order start at $376.

Earlier this week, Madison mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway was one of several Big Ten city mayors to send a letter to the conference, asking the league to avoid scheduling late afternoon and night games, like the Badgers’ opener tonight against Illinois.

Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.