For those of you thinking you’re going to take your tailgating act off campus and onto the greater confines of Athens-Clarke County, Georgia, not so fast, my friends. It doesn’t sound like those folks are going to be overly welcoming.
The city of Athens can’t simply ban tailgating like the university did. Commissioner Melissa Link fears that UGA’s decision will just push some tailgaters out into big gatherings outside the campus and in bars.
“My big question is, do (fans) know what they’re getting into?” Link said.
“Obviously, we don’t have the virus handled at this time,” said Denson, who hopes Girtz will convene a special meeting of the commission next week to enact some measures to cope with the expected football crowds.
About five months into the pandemic, Clarke County had a relatively low per-capita COVID-19 rate and one of the lowest COVID-19 death rates in the state. But that changed when UGA students began coming back to Athens ahead of Aug. 20, the first day of fall semester classes. In September, Clarke’s infection rate became one of the highest in the nation.
Though the local government can’t ban tailgating or football parties, Link thinks it’s possible the commission could tweak some its existing ordinances, such as local laws that regulate loud and unruly gatherings or its noise ordinance.
They’ve got the government’s lawyers studying the question, and some of the commissioners will informally huddle this weekend while Williams and Girtz go on their scouting mission, Link said.
They’ll also be keeping an eye out for what happens in other college towns as the football season gets under way.
So, no, they can’t stop you entirely, but can they make your life somewhat miserable with enforcement of the ticky-tacky? Let’s just say they’ve got some experience in that regard. Ask football players about that.