Masks no longer required for youth sports

Sports

SOUTH HADLEY, Mass. (WWLP) – Beginning Tuesday, children do not need to wear a mask while playing sports outdoors.

This goes for all children 18 and under. Also beginning Tuesday, children no longer need a mask at school recess either.

South Hadley resident Shelley Shorette told 22News, “That should never have even been a requirement in the first place because they are outside and it really hurts me to see kids running around outside with a mask over their face. But to be able to interact and not be so worried about germs and getting sick it shouldn’t be on their priority list of concern.”

On May 29, all other youth and amateur sports restrictions will be lifted, and on the same day children will not need to wear masks at summer camps.

Safety Standards for youth and adult amateur sports

A. RISK LEVEL OF SPORTS

Sports and recreational activities are categorized as “Lower Risk,” “Moderate Risk,” and
“Higher Risk” based on the risk of transmission of COVID-19 inherent in the sport or
recreational activity itself as traditionally played.

Lower Risk sports and recreational activities are characterized by:

• Sports or activities that can be done with social distancing and no physical contact
• Sports or activities that can be done individually

Examples: Tennis, pickleball, swimming, catch, disc golf, golf, individual biking, surfing,
horseback riding, individual sailing, fishing, hunting, motor sports, no contact exercise classes,
gymnastics, cross country, individual crew, alpine and nordic skiing

Moderate Risk sports and recreational activities are characterized by:

• Sports or activities that involve intermittent close proximity or limited, incidental
physical contact between participants

Examples: Baseball, softball, crew, sailing, outdoor track and field, indoor track and field,
running clubs, team swimming, volleyball, dance class, fencing, field hockey, girls’ lacrosse,
soccer

Higher Risk sports and recreational activities are characterized by:

• Sports or activities for which there is a requirement or a substantial likelihood of routine
close and/or sustained proximity or deliberate physical contact between participants and a
high probability that respiratory particles will be transmitted between participants

Examples: Football, wrestling, rugby, basketball, lacrosse, ice-hockey, competitive cheer, martial
arts, ultimate frisbee, boxing, pair figure skating

B. SPORTS & RECREATIONAL ACTIVITIES ALLOWED BY RISK LEVEL DURING PHASE IV, STEP 1

The risk associated with an activity is also dependent on the type of play. The following types of
play are defined by level from least to greatest risk.

• Level 1: Individual or socially distanced group activities (non-contact workouts, aerobic
conditioning, individual skill work, and drills)
• Level 2: Competitive Practices (Intra-team/group games, contact drills, and scrimmages)
• Level 3: Competitions (Inter-team games, meets, matches, races, etc.)1
• Level 4: Tournaments

Sports and recreational activities are subject to the limitations and guidelines set forth below:

• Sports and activities included in the Lower Risk category can participate in Level 1, 2, 3,
and 4 type of play.
• Sports and activities included in the Moderate Risk category can participate in Level 1,
2, 3 and 4 type of play.
• Sports and activities included in the Higher Risk category can participate in Level 1, 2, 3
and 4 type of play, subject to the following:

o Football and rugby may conduct Level 1 play indoors but must only engage in
Level 2, 3, and 4 activities outdoors.
o If feasible, conduct Level 2, 3 and 4 wrestling activities outdoors, but wrestling
may be conducted indoors

C. SAFETY STANDARDS FOR PLAY

All Facility Operators and Activity Organizers of activities must develop and implement safety
standards to minimize the risk of transmission of infection among participants, especially for
High Risk sports and those sports conducted in indoor settings and are expected to ensure
compliance by all participants. Safety standards should be disseminated regularly. Some of the mitigation strategies that should be considered and incorporated into safety standards include,
but are not limited to:

• Identifying measures that can be implemented to increase physical distancing, where
feasible.
• In races or similar activities where players typically start or finish together, staggering
starts to avoid close contact. When indoors, starting lines should also be adjusted to
allow for 6 feet of distancing between participants at the start (e.g. have runners in
every other lane, spacing competitors on start line 6 feet apart). If space is limited,
staggered start times should be used to allow appropriate spacing for participants for
each starting group.
• Conducting the activity or sport outdoors where possible, as outdoor participation is
generally safer than indoors and allows for greater distancing.
• Shortening activities, practices, and game play or performing the activity with fewer
participants to the extent possible.
• Modifying the activity or sport to reduce the sharing of equipment or to allow for
cleaning of shared equipment between participants.
• Utilizing cohorts, even if not required to do so, of the same participants over the
course of an entire program or season.

Mandatory Facial Coverings for All Sports:

Facility Operators and Activity Organizers must require facial coverings to be worn by all
participants during active play except:

• During swimming, water polo, water aerobics or other sports where individuals are in the
water; or
• For low-risk sports when indoors but where a distance of at least 14 feet or more is
consistently maintained between each participant during active play or performance (e.g.,
singles tennis or individual gymnastics performance); or
• For youth aged 18 years and under when outdoors and engaged in low, moderate and
high-risk sports; or
• For adults aged 19 years and older when outdoors and engaged in low risk or moderate
risk sports where social distancing can be consistently maintained. This includes for
example, but is not limited to, the following low and moderate risk sports: tennis,
pickleball, disc golf, golf, biking, surfing, horseback riding, individual sailing, fishing,
hunting, motor sports, gymnastics, cross country, individual rowing, skiing, baseball,
softball, beach volleyball, and running formats where social distancing is maintained.
• For individuals with a documented medical condition or disability that makes them
unable to wear a face covering.

For purposes of this guidance, a facial covering means a face mask or cloth facial covering that
completely covers the nose and mouth.

Participants should take frequent facial covering breaks when they are out of proximity to other
players, using caution to avoid touching the front or inside of the face covering by using the ties
or ear loops to remove and replace.

This requirement applies to all spectators and chaperones, coaches, staff, referees, umpires, and
other officials.

E. INDOOR AND OUTDOOR FACILITY CAPACITY AND SPECTATOR LIMITS

• Indoor facilities and outdoor facilities with a permitted capacity must limit capacity to
no more than 50% of the facility’s maximum permitted occupancy up to a maximum
capacity of 500. Large capacity venues may exceed the 500-person capacity limit as
specified below.
• Large capacity venues, defined as having capacities of 5,000 persons or more as
specified in a certificate of occupancy or other, equivalent authorization must follow
capacity limits for Large Capacity venues in COVID-19 Sector-Specific Safety Rules
for Large Capacity Venues.
• For facilities with multiple fields, surfaces, courts, courses etc. the above capacity
limitations shall apply per playing field, surface, court, etc., provided that there is
adequate spacing for at least six feet social distancing for all individuals, including
those at adjacent fields, surfaces, courts, etc.
• Facility Operators and Activity Organizers should set schedules with time buffers to
prevent the overlap of competitions or overlap of players/spectators from adjacent
fields/surfaces/courts at any one time.
• Facility Operators and Activity Organizers should mark off designated areas for
spectators for each field, surface, court, etc. to minimize the overlap of spectators
from adjacent fields, surfaces, courts, etc.

IV. COOPERATION WITH HEALTH OFFICIALS

Facility Operators and Activity Organizers, as well as coaches, participants, and others engaging
in sports activities are required to cooperate with state health officials and local boards of health
7
and their authorized agents. Facility Operators and Activity Organizers must keep rosters of
all participants with appropriate contact information and make that information available
upon request by state officials, local boards of health or their authorized agents. Should a
Facility Operator or Activity Organizers fail to completely and promptly cooperate with health
officials, operators and organizers risk closure or suspension of a league’s practices and/or
games.

V. REQUIRED SAFETY PROTOCOLS

All Facility Operators and Activity Organizers must adhere to the following safety standards.

A. SOCIAL DISTANCING

Facility Operator Guidance

• Facility Operator must follow the indoor and outdoor facility and spectator capacity
limits as indicated in Section III (E) above.
• Locker rooms are permitted to open up to 50% capacity. Facility Owners must close or
mark lockers to enforce 6 feet social distancing. Operators must ensure that users of a
locker room can abide by capacity restrictions and social distancing standards and
establish signage and visual guidelines. Locker room users must use facial coverings
or masks. Adult coaches or other staff must ensure youth participants are complying
with distancing, capacity, and face coverings.
• Individual and communal shower areas may open but are limited to 50% capacity.
Social distancing of at least 6 feet is required for all individuals in shower areas.
• Operators should ensure that individuals are not congregating in locker rooms or
common areas during or following practices or events.
• While indoors, visitors, spectators, volunteers, and staff must wear facial coverings.
Activity Organizer Guidance
• Activity Organizer must ensure compliance with the indoor and outdoor spectator
capacity limits as indicated in Section III (E) above.
• Players, coaches, and officials should be encouraged to arrive for practices, games,
meets and competitions dressed to play.
• While in-person, team-based social events are often considered an integral component
of recreational sports leagues, more frequent, extended physical or close contact
increases the risk of COVID-19 transmission between team members should an
outbreak occur. In the interest of reducing preventable transmission events, Activity
Organizers must ensure that team-based social gatherings do not occur until all other
COVID-19-specific restrictions regulating sports leagues are fully lifted.
• Sportsmanship should continue in a touchless manner – no handshakes/slaps/fist
bumps.
• If social distancing is not possible in an athletic facility, chaperones/spectators may be
asked to wait outside the facility until an activity is completed.
• Once athletes have completed their competition or activity, they must leave the area if
another team is taking the field or using the playing surface to ensure adequate space
for distancing.

B. STAFFING AND OPERATIONS

Facility Operator Guidance

• Any concessions or food service must follow the Safety Standards for Restaurants.
• Facility Operators of indoor facilities shall establish traffic patterns (one-way flow,
designated exits and entrances where possible), and limit capacity to maintain social
distancing for the facility, including any restrooms.
• Facility Operators must post notice to employees, workers, and participants of
important health information and relevant safety measures.
• Require workers who test positive for COVID-19 to disclose to the workplace
employer for purposes of cleaning / disinfecting and contact tracing. If the employer is
notified of a positive case at the workplace, the employer must notify the Local Board
of Health (LBOH) in the city or town where the workplace is located and assist
the LBOH to advise likely contacts to isolate and self-quarantine. Testing of other
workers may be recommended consistent with guidance and /or at the request of
the LBOH.
• Facility Operators shall not knowingly allow an Activity Organizer to use a facility if
the Activity Organizer is continuing to organize sports activities despite a notice of
non-compliance or directive from the Department of Public Health, Department of
Labor Standards or a Local Board of Health. The Department of Public Health,
Department of Labor Standards and/or a Local Board of Health may issue a civil fine
for failure to comply with this requirement of $300 per violation for each incident and
for each day the violation(s) occur.

Activity Organizer Guidance

• To participate or attend, organizers should ensure that participants, volunteers,
coaches, and spectators must show no signs or symptoms of COVID-19 Current list of
symptoms is available from the CDC.
• If any individual develops symptoms of COVID-19 during the activity, they should
promptly inform organizers and must be removed from the activity and instructed to
return home.
• Activity Organizers of activities are responsible for following all guidelines and
creating a safe environment for participants.

C. HYGEIENE, CLEANING AND DISINFECTING

Facility Operator Guidance

• If any equipment is provided by the Operator, the Operator must clean and disinfect
shared equipment at the end of a practice or competition session.
• Indoor sports facilities should take steps to ensure adequate ventilation, including,
increasing the volume of outdoor air to the maximum possible and reducing the
volume of recirculated air being returned while the facility is occupied.
• Indoor facilities must provide access to handwashing facilities on site, including soap
and running water, and allow sufficient break time for staff and participants to wash
hands frequently; alcohol-based hand sanitizers with at least 60% alcohol may be used
as an alternative.
• All facilities must supply employees with adequate cleaning products (e.g., sanitizer,
disinfecting wipes).
• Operators must post visible signage throughout the site to remind employees and
visitors of hygiene and safety protocols.
• Keep cleaning logs that include date, time, and scope of cleaning.
• Conduct frequent disinfecting of heavy transit areas and high-touch surfaces (e.g.,
doorknobs, handrails, bathrooms).

Activity Organizer Guidance

• Organizers must ensure that any shared personal equipment is disinfected before use
by each individual using a product. Personal equipment includes all gear that is worn
by players (e.g., gloves, helmets, masks, skates, footwear, pads, etc.).
• No shared food or drink may be provided during any activities for participants or
spectators except by concessions and food service providers following the Safety
Standards for Restaurants.
• Participants and spectators should only drink from their own containers. Organizers
must provide individual, dedicated water bottles for children if they do not have their
own.
• Participants and coaches must achieve proper hand hygiene at the beginning and end
of all activities, either through handwashing with soap and water or by using an
alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
• Organizers should understand the cleaning and disinfection protocols employed at the
facility they are using and should raise any issues to the operator or Local Board of
Health

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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