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Gov. Lee lifting attendance restrictions

By Monday, cheerleaders and fans should be back at Charlie Dalton Gym.

Open the gyms!

Governor Bill Lee announced today that the state is lifting attendance restrictions for games. The restrictions will stay in place through the weekend, but gyms could be full by Monday, Feb. 1.

Lee, who recently extended an executive order to keep strict restrictions in place, cited declining cases and hospitalizations for COVID-19 as the reason to open back up the gyms.

“Tennessee’s numbers continue to rapidly improve with almost a 60 percent decline in cases and nearly a 40 percent decline in hospitalizations because of the efforts of Tennesseans,” said Lee on a Twitter post lifting the restrictions.

Currently, attendance for games is limited to household family members (including grandparents based on a Jan. 19 update), players, coaches, referees, game administrators and media. Those rules were put in place as cases began to rise after Thanksgiving.

Students, cheerleaders, dance teams and many season-ticket holders have been unable to attend games for over a month. According to the TSSAA, restrictions against cheerleaders and dance teams will be lifted Feb. 1.

From the TSSAA website:

"With the Governor’s announcement, the restrictions limiting cheerleaders and members of the general public from attending contests will be lifted on Monday, February 1. The TSSAA rules regarding masks, temperature checks, social distancing and COVID-19 recommended venue capacities will remain in effect."

Warren County Director of Schools Grant Swallows is happy to have cheerleaders - and the general public - returning to gyms locally.

"I am thrilled with the Governor's announcement today about the expiration of Executive Order No. 74, primarily for our student-athletes and students. Our cheerleaders and dance team members deserved to the opportunity to be part of competition because they are student-athletes in every sense of the word," said Swallows in a statement. "We also now have the opportunity to allow more fans into our competitions, which will enhance the atmosphere for all involved."

Warren County is set to play Coffee County at Charlie Dalton Gym Monday, Feb. 1, while the local 7-8 grade elementary tournament is slated to begin next week as well. The region wrestling tournament is set to be held at Warren County High School on Feb. 13.

Warren County will revert back to following the 1/3 capacity ruling. It was set in place before the start of the school year.

Swallows who is also a board of control member with the TSSAA, feels it is necessary to continue to have safeguards in place.

"We will be returning to the guidelines that were in place before the Governor's latest order. All venues will be restricted to 1/3 capacity. All health screening provisions will remain in place including the mandate of wearing masks, sitting physically distanced from non-family members, and temperature screens at the door. Health and safety will remain our top priority," said Swallows. "As always, I am thankful for everyone's patience as we navigate new territory. Our goal has been, and remains, to provide our students with a great experience through education-based athletics."

Charlie Dalton Gym has a capacity of 1,800, meaning 600 people can be in attendance.

While Swallows' statement included that "Warren County Schools will continue to utilize the

GoFan app to administer ticket sales," it is likely there will be no additional tickets issued for WCHS basketball games. Athletic Director Todd Willmore confirmed earlier Thursday that Warren County sold its allotment of seats (approximately 500) before the season. The remaining 100 are set aside for visiting teams.

If visiting teams return tickets, they will be made available to the general public.

The Warren County Sports Authority will continue to monitor ticket sales for other local events. We will update the community as information continues.

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