The Minnesota Department of Health released guidance for youth and adult sports Dec. 28, announcing that games and scrimmages will be able to take place starting on Jan. 14, in addition to practices being allowed beginning on Jan. 4.
Masks will be required at all times for players during both practices and games, with very few exceptions. According to the guidelines, “People are not permitted to remove their face coverings during activities that involve a high level of exertion.”
Exceptions for mask-wearing include wrestling, gymnastics, cheerleading, swimming, and diving.
For gymnastics and cheerleading, “if there are concerns about safety in regards to choking or the face covering getting caught on objects, athletes may temporarily remove the face covering during activities such as tumbling/stunting/flying or on certain apparatuses. However, athletes must wear face coverings for all other practices and routines.”
Practices must have fewer than 25 people per “pod,” which is “a group of individuals that only practice or play with members of their own pod.” Teams are responsible for enforcing distinct pods and keeping members of different pods away from each other, either by practicing in separate rooms or keeping at least 12 feet of distance between the groups.
Six feet of physical distance must be maintained between players when they are not playing but are on the bench or sideline.
Spectators are not allowed at practices, but it is implied that spectators will be allowed at games starting Jan.14, with guidance on games to follow.
Additionally, any facility hosting a sporting event and all youth sports programs must create a COVID-19 Preparedness Plan. The guidelines also recommend appointing a COVID-19 coordinator who is in charge of the plan and reporting cases on the team.
The guidelines suggest that “carpooling should be discouraged as much as possible.” The MDH also highly recommends keeping rosters of who attends practices each day, “so we can do contact tracing quickly.”
Team photography was given its own section in the guidelines, with the suggestion to “consider using a longer lens to increase distance between the photography staff and the people being photographed.” After the photo has been taken, “people should quickly separate from others.”