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Seattle's Husky Stadium welcomes back football fans after 645 days

UW's Husky Stadium was closed to fans throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, but reopens Saturday with new safety protocols.

SEATTLE — For the first time in 645 days, fans will be allowed back in Husky Stadium. Fans haven't filled the seats since the Apple Cup in 2019. 

But when the University of Washington's football team squares off against Montana Saturday, it will feel a bit different.

The university says masks will be required in all interior spaces, and are strongly suggested for fans in outdoor areas, too. UW said it will comply with King County's outdoor mask mandate, which goes into effect Tuesday, at future events.

Fans will no longer be allowed to re-enter the building after leaving the stadium. That is part of a major policy shift, that also includes stadium-wide sales of beer and wine, except in student seating. There has been a national trend at collegiate stadiums for alcohol sales, and simultaneously limiting re-entry, based on data that shows limits cases of binge drinking and calls for service.

Either way, Husky Football Coach Jimmy Lake said he and his team are ready to welcome back fans, "We're excited to go in front our fans, and not cardboard cutouts".