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Northeastern University Will Hold Home Sporting Events Without Spectators Due To Rise In COVID-19 Cases

BOSTON (CBS) -- With COVID-19 cases rising, Northeastern University has decided to stop allowing spectators in to sporting events, beginning Dec. 19.

"The decision was made out of an abundance of caution due to an increase in the number of COVID-19 cases on the Boston campus, primarily in the student population, including some cases of the Omicron variant," the school said in a statement.

Fans who have already purchased tickets to events can receive a refund, or exchange the tickets for future events.

"Northeastern University is evaluating the situation closely and will communicate when it is safe for fans to return to our arenas," the statement concluded.

The school listed seven basketball games -- four men's games and three women's teams -- as being eligible for refunds, in dates that span from Dec. 19 through Jan. 5.

The men's and women's hockey teams are currently in breaks of their schedules, with both teams resuming on Jan. 7.

Helen Boucher is Interim Dean at Tufts Medical School and Chief Academic Officer of their health system Wellforce. She says she won't be surprised if more schools start trending this way. "I think it's a very reasonable recommendation that the leadership at Northeastern made today," Boucher said. "Any place where there is crowding indoors has a higher risk of transmission of the virus."

Students say they've waited all year for the opportunity to cheer on their sports teams in person and it's tough to have it taken away once again.

"I think it's a bit harsh," student Enrico Agiani-Fontalta said. "As part of the Northeastern community we are getting tested very often."

"I am a first semester college student, so going through all of that and having these games to go to was really fun," student Jennifer Do said. "But it wasn't unexpected that this happened, but it's a little frustrating."

On Friday, Massachusetts reported 6,345 new cases of COVID-19, with 45 additional deaths.

COVID-19 cases have risen dramatically across the professional sports landscape this week, and that has included the local teams. The Celtics have four players in COVID protocols, while the Bruins' next game in Montreal has been postponed due to seven players being on the COVID list.

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