Wednesday, 28 July 2021

State updates guidance for youth and adult recreational sports

On Thursday, the California Department of Public Health released an update to its outdoor and indoor youth and recreational adult sports guidance which specifies the conditions under which youth and adult recreational sports may resume practice with contact and competition under the Blueprint for a Safer Economy.

The guidance has been updated to authorize any youth or adult recreational sports team, including indoor sports, to begin practice with contact and competition at any time if they adhere to the specific requirements applicable to college sports under the COVID-19 Industry Guidance for Institutions of Higher Education.

“Our top priority is supporting youth sports to safely return to play, guided by science,” said Dr. Tomás J. Aragón, CDPH director and State Public Health officer. “Our previous guidance accomplished this by allowing competition in sports with lower risk of transmission to begin sooner if conducted outdoors, which is lower risk than indoors.”

Thursday’s update specifies that teams can return to competition earlier than otherwise authorized under the previous guidance, which was issued on Feb. 19, 2021, but only if they adhere to the stricter requirements in place for college teams.

The previous guidance, which incorporated mitigation steps that can reasonably be implemented by youth and amateur teams that do not have the same resources available to them as professional and college teams, has no additional substantive changes.

As the updated guidance reflects, college teams are subject to rigorous testing requirements around each competition for contact sports, teams in all sports must have contact tracing protocols in place and coordinate with local health authorities, and all teams must develop site-specific plans for each facility the team uses, among other requirements not applicable to youth and recreational teams.

This update resolves uncertainty created by a court order issued in a lawsuit recently filed in San Diego, which created significant confusion for youth and their families and led to rushed returns to competition that put young people’s health at risk. This update also helps to ensure no one is unnecessarily distracted from the important work of supporting youth sports to safely return to play.

This update does not generally authorize indoor youth sports to resume. Rather, teams can return to competition only if they implement and adhere to the rigorous requirements in place for college teams.

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