Josh Heupel did not give away any specifics regarding Tennessee’s vaccination status as a team on Monday. However, he did give an approximation, with some optimism in how the team has continued to handle this situation.
“I feel good about what we’re doing,” Heupel said on Monday. “Our vaccination rate is above 80% at this point.”
The SEC will not require teams to be fully vaccinated to play this year. However, they did announce how they would handle teams that are unable to play due to Covid-19. In 2021, if an SEC team cannot play due to Covid-19 restrictions, that team will forfeit the matchup. However, if two scheduled teams are both unable to play due to Covid-19, both teams will again be forced to forfeit the game. In that situation, both teams would take a loss in the contest.
Heupel then explained what he has seen from the players in the building. And how they have adapted to the guidelines in 2021.
“Our kids have been really good inside of the building, and obviously, what we’ve had to do protocol-wise has changed here during the course of training camp,” Heupel said on Monday. “Masks are now required in all of our meeting rooms. The kids have accepted it and have done a really good job with it.”
While masks are a requirement for the Tennessee players in their meeting rooms, fans attending Neyland Stadium won’t have to abide by those same rules.
Fans attending games in Neyland Stadium in 2021 will not be required to wear a face-covering inside the stadium. However, the use of a mask will be encouraged while inside Neyland.
Furthermore, fans will not have to show proof of vaccination or a recent negative Covid-19 test to enter the stadium. Instead, fans will simply need to bring their entry ticket. Although, it is worth noting that Tennessee could change these procedures at any point this season. However, for the start, fans entering Neyland Stadium will not have to be vaccinated, provide a negative test, or wear a face cover.
Last week, LSU announced their policy for football games in Tiger Stadium, going a different route than Tennessee. LSU will require the use of face masks and either proof of vaccination or a recent negative test to enter.
Tennessee will lace up their cleats for game one in just three days on Thursday night. However, for the Vols, being healthy extends beyond their current Covid-19 status. Coach Heupel closed his press conference on Monday by talking about the overall health of his team.
“We really are [healthy] at this point,” Heupel said. “I really feel like pretty much everybody is going to be available. K’Rojhn (Calbert), with his injury early in training camp, won’t be available, but pretty much everybody else is going to be ready to go roll on Thursday night. I’m excited to go see these guys compete. It’s going to be a lot of fun.”