Face masks mandated for youth, adult recreational sports amid COVID-19
Face masks will become a mandate starting next week for most youth and adult recreational sports, according to the latest guidance from the Agency of Commerce and Community Development.
To fall in line with school-based sports, the ACCD says “cloth face coverings will be required at all times when physical distance of six feet cannot be consistently maintained” during games, events and practices.
The directive takes effect Sept. 8, the same day schools across Vermont reopen for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic slammed the country in March.
More:Heading back to school during the coronavirus: Here is how to prep your kids to return
“Supporting in-school instruction is a priority right now,” said Lindsay Kurrle, the secretary of the ACCD. “If we wanted to continue permitting organized sports, we felt we needed to take a more aggressive position for the time being.”
The state’s guidance on high school and middle school sports was issued last month and requires athletes and teams to wear facial coverings during competition or in practice, with an exemption for cross-country runners.
Games at the school level are not expected to begin until the end of September.
More:Coronavirus: When you can expect Vermont high school sports to begin competition
More:What to know about masks and high school sports in Vermont this fall
When the ACCD released its restart guidance in June, youth and adult recreation leagues sports such as soccer and lacrosse were not held to a face-mask mandate.
Kurrle said people with documented medical or behavioral reasons won’t be required to wear face masks.
“We want to give people guidance in hopes they can find safe and effective ways to (play sports),” Kurrle said.
The new directives will be reviewed for possible changes next month.
What about youth football?
Kurrle said 11-on-11 tackle has been ruled out for youth football, just like at the high school level.
However, the state has left it up to leagues and organizations on deciding between flag or touch football in a 7-on-7 format. High schools will compete this fall as a one-hand touch, 7-on-7 league.
“Tackle is out of the picture for right now. We didn’t take a strict position on (flag or touch),” Kurrle said.
More:COVID-19 in Vermont: No postseason tournament for 7-on-7 touch football in 2020
What sports are allowed?
► Outdoor sports of no- to low-contact such as cross-country running (with staggered starts), golf, tennis, bass fishing tournaments, sideline cheer, single sculling, alpine skiing, Nordic skiing, snowboarding and track and field may hold practices, games and competitions.
► Outdoor sports of short-duration, incidental contact such as soccer, softball, baseball, girls lacrosse, field hockey, 7-on-7 football (no tackle) and crew with two or more rowers may hold practices, scrimmages and games.
► Outdoor sports of close proximity or moderate contact such as boys lacrosse, ultimate frisbee and 3-on-3 basketball may hold practices, scrimmages and games.
► Indoor sports activities should only be considered if an outdoor alternative is not viable and indoor facilities can ensure adequate ventilation.
► Indoor sports of no- or low-contact such as track and field, individual event swimming, gymnastics, and figure skating may hold practices, competitions and meets.
► Indoor sports of short-duration, incidental contact such as indoor soccer or futsal, ice hockey and broomball may hold practices and competition. Volleyball is precluded from indoor matches but allowed outside.
► Indoor sports of high-contact such as football, wrestling, rugby, 5-on-5 basketball and cheerleading may hold practices but are limited to conditioning skill drills. Full-contact scrimmages and games are still not permitted.
What are the guidelines?
While the facial covering mandate begins Sept. 8, the rest of the updated guidance from the ACCD’s recreational sports restart team kicks in this Friday.
Some of the key takeaways from the guidance include:
► The number of people at events (athletes, coaches, officials, spectators, etc.) should be limited as much as possible and cannot exceed social gathering limits (currently 150 for outdoor events; 75 for indoors).
► Cloth facial coverings are mandated during events for players, coaches, officials, staff and spectators who are not immediately involved in active play, which is consistent with the state’s current health guidance (for example, face masks should be worn during timeouts or while on sidelines).
► Health checks are required before arrival to practices, games and competitions.
► Sports leagues and organizations are asked to give “strong consideration” to reducing face-to-face contact by implementing modifications. Several examples include: eliminating faceoffs in boys lacrosse, removing checking in hockey and altering corner kicks in soccer,
► To aid contact tracing, organizers or home teams must maintain participant lists for each event or game for 30 days.
► Sporting events in Vermont may only occur between or involve Vermont-based teams or teams from counties eligible for quarantine-free travel to Vermont, based on the most recent map published by the ACCD.
► Individual players from bordering states who belong to a Vermont-based team, club, organization or league may participate but must follow Vermont state recreational visitation guidelines.
► There is no need to quarantine when Vermont players and teams return from out-of-state games, meets or tournaments in locations eligible for quarantine-free travel and involving participants only from areas eligible for quarantine-free travel to Vermont, based on the most recent ACCD map.
► Jamborees or tournament-style play is still not permitted. The mandate will be reevaluated on Nov. 1.
Contact Alex Abrami at 660-1848 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter: @aabrami5.
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