TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) — Thousands of excited football fans partied in streets around the University of Alabama after the Crimson Tide defeated Ohio State 52-24 for the national championship, ignoring pleas for common sense and safety at the height of the coronavirus pandemic.
Students and others poured out of jam-packed bars near campus as time expired in Miami late Monday, traffic cameras and images posted on social media show, gathering on University Boulevard in an area called “The Strip.”
UA released a statement on the antics that took place in one of the busiest areas in Tuscaloosa.
In cooperation with the City of Tuscaloosa and area law enforcement agencies, over the last several days The University of Alabama worked to minimize risk before, during and after last night’s national championship football game. In addition to warnings and admonitions about the need for masks, social distancing and responsible behavior, the University added multiple officers to patrol areas around campus, including The Strip. As a result of recent events, we are allowing faculty to be flexible for the next two weeks with the option to temporarily hold classes remotely. Students have the option to attend in-person activities remotely as well. Staff will continue with adjusted flexible scheduling. While UA classroom transmission is almost nonexistent, we understand the concerns caused by recent events. All health and safety rules remain in effect, including mandatory distancing, masks and other protocols. We will continue to enforce the Code of Student Conduct as it relates to COVID-19 and expect full compliance this semester.The University of Alabama
Many of the fans screaming and cheering as they pressed against each other in the street didn’t wear face masks. The scene was exactly what officials feared before the game as they urged people to watch at home and celebrate privately.
More than 5,300 people have died in Alabama from the illness caused by the coronavirus, and about 404,000 have tested positive. About 14,200 people have tested positive in Tuscaloosa County, making it one of the worst in the state for the virus in overall numbers, and about 175 COVID-19 patients are being treated by DCH Regional Medical Center, located in the city.
WATCH: Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox and Chief of Police Brent Blankley speak Tuesday morning regarding National Championship crowds.
“Cheer, celebrate, and enjoy the success of our team, but please do so responsibly and safely. Roll Tide!,” Police Chief Brent Blankley said in a statement beforehand. Police cars and officers are visible at the fringes of the throng in some images.
People lined up to get into the bars an hour before kickoff despite the warnings, The Tuscaloosa News reported. “All bars are open and we’re ready to roll over Ohio State,” said a tweet by Gallettes, a popular student bar, long before the game began.
Despite the threat of COVID-19, the celebration eclipsed the size of previous ones during coach Nick Saban’s string of titles at Alabama.
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