California loosens rules for youth sports during pandemic amid pressure
Youth baseball, soccer and softball slated to return to much of California as new COVID case rates continue decline

The California Department of Public Health released new guidance Friday morning that will allow all outdoor youth and adult recreational sports in counties with low coronavirus case rates.

The path is cleared for youth baseball, softball and soccer to return to much of California as early as next Friday when the new guidelines take effect.

The new guidance clears the way for sports like baseball, softball, gymnastics and cheerleading to resume Feb. 26 for at least 27 counties, including places that are in the most restrictive tier of the state’s virus designations.

High-contact outdoor sports like football, basketball and rugby can also resume under that standard, but only if all coaches and players 13 and older get tested once a week. Test results must be available within 24 hours of competition.

Gov. Gavin Newsom said the state will pay for the tests. The new guidelines were developed in partnership with organizations large and small, including the Let Them Play coalition, the governor said, thanking them “for their strong advocacy.”

California to Ease Virus Rules to Allow Youth Sports, Gov. Gavin Newsom Says

“We are now confident with new guidelines we are publishing today we can get youth sports moving again in the state of California,” Newsom said.

The rules apply to all organized sports for kids and adults, including schools and community-sponsored programs. It does not apply to collegiate or professional sports or “community events," which include marathons and other endurance races.

The guidance requires all coaches and spectators to wear masks. It says athletes should wear masks when not participating, such as when they are sitting on the sidelines.

Twenty-seven counties currently have case rates at or below 14 people per 100,000. The largest is Santa Clara county, which includes the city of San Jose.

As of Friday, the state health department said these were the counties with case rates at or below 14 per 100,000: Alameda, Amador, Butte, Calaveras, Del Norte, El Dorado, Humboldt, Imperial, Lassen, Marin, Mariposa, Modoc, Napa, Nevada, Placer, Plumas, San Francisco, San Luis Obispo, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Sierra, Siskiyou, Sonoma, Trinity, Tuolumne and Yolo.

An additional 16 counties have case rates between 14 and 20 people per 100,000 and could soon meet the new standard. That includes Los Angeles, San Diego, Sacramento and Fresno counties.

Dr. Tomas Aragon, director of the California Department of Public Health, said state officials loosened the rules because case rates and hospitalizations are declining across the state.

"Youth sports are important to our children’s physical and mental health, and our public health approach has worked to balance those benefits against COVID-19 risks,” he said.

Here's a breakdown of what's allowed in each of California's COVID-19 tiers:

PURPLE TIER:

Outdoor low-contact sports

  • Archery
  • Badminton (singles)
  • Biking
  • Bocce
  • Corn hole
  • Cross country
  • Dance (no contact)
  • Disc golf
  • Equestrian events (including rodeos) that involve only a single rider at a time
  • Fencing
  • Golf
  • Ice and roller skating (no contact)
  • Lawn bowling
  • Martial arts (no contact)
  • Physical training programs (e.g., yoga, Zumba, Tai chi)
  • Pickleball (singles)
  • Rowing/crew (with 1 person)
  • Running
  • Shuffleboard
  • Skeet shooting
  • Skiing and snowboarding
  • Snowshoeing
  • Swimming and diving
  • Tennis (singles)
  • Track and field
  • Walking and hiking

RED TIER:

Outdoor moderate-contact sports

  • Badminton (doubles)
  • Baseball
  • Cheerleading
  • Dodgeball
  • Field hockey
  • Gymnastics
  • Kickball
  • Lacrosse (girls/women)
  • Pickleball (doubles)
  • Softball
  • Tennis (doubles)
  • Volleyball

ORANGE TIER:

Outdoor high-contact sports

  • Basketball
  • Football
  • Ice hockey
  • Lacrosse (boys/men)
  • Rugby
  • Rowing/crew (with 2 or more people)
  • Soccer
  • Water polo

Indoor low-contact sports

  • Badminton (singles)
  • Curling
  • Dance (no contact)
  • Gymnastics
  • Ice skating (individual)
  • Physical training
  • Pickleball (singles)
  • Swimming and diving
  • Tennis (singles)
  • Track and field
  • Bowling

YELLOW TIER

Indoor moderate-contact sports

  • Badminton (doubles)
  • Cheerleading
  • Dance (intermittent contact)
  • Dodgeball
  • Kickball
  • Pickleball (doubles)
  • Racquetball
  • Squash
  • Tennis (doubles)
  • Volleyball

Indoor high-contact sports

  • Basketball
  • Boxing
  • Ice hockey
  • Ice skating (pairs)
  • Martial arts
  • Roller derby
  • Soccer
  • Water polo
  • Wrestling

SOURCE: https://www.kcra.com/article/california-loosens-rules-youth-sports-during-covid-19/35566413

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