MDHHS releases interim guidelines for athletics


FILE – A student athlete runs a drill during a strength and conditioning camp at Arlington Martin High School Thursday, June 18, 2020, in Arlington, Texas. Texas will play high school football this fall, but some of it will be delayed, fans will be limited and masks will be required as the state fights a surge in new coronavirus cases, hospitalizations and fatalities. The University Interscholastic League on Tuesday, July 21, 2020 released its guidelines for Texas public high school fall sports, pushing back the start of the football and volleyball seasons for the largest schools by one month into late September and extending the football championships for those schools into January. (AP Photo/LM Otero, file)

LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services released their Interim Guidance for Athletics on Monday.

The guidance requires masks be worn during practices and competition. If masks cannot be worn the participants must be regularly tested for the coronavirus.

Contact sports are allowed as long as participants are masked during play or practice. Participants need to maintain six feet of distance when not actively engaged in play and wear face masks at all times.

“Safety protocols like wearing masks and testing will help keep kids, coaches and families safe and allow our schools to remain open for in-person instruction,” said Elizabeth Hertel, MDHHS director. “We also continue to urge hand washing, using separate equipment as much as possible and frequently cleaning and disinfecting any shared equipment and surfaces.”

The Guidance also recommends that the maximum allowed of spectators in a stadium is two-per-athlete, with up to 250 people in stadiums that seat less than 10,000 and 500 people in stadiums that fir more than 10,000.

Per the Guidance, additional recommendations included in the MDHHS guidance include:

  • Wash hands frequently and cover coughs and sneezes.
  • Do not share items that are difficult to clean, sanitize or disinfect. Use separate towels, clothing or other items used to wipe faces or hands.
  • Individuals should use their own gear/equipment and minimize sharing equipment.
  • Individuals are encouraged to provide their own food, drinks and/or water.
  • If a mask is removed during a break, participants must remain at least six feet apart from others.
  • Refrain from pre- or post-event handshakes, hugs, fist bumps, high fives or contact celebrations.
  • Ensure enough time between events or practices to allow for proper cleaning and disinfection of the facilities and shared equipment.
  • Prioritize outdoor, as opposed to indoor, practice and play as much as possible.
  • If playing inside, ensure ventilation systems or fans operate properly. Increase circulation of outdoor air as much as possible, for example by opening windows and doors.
  • Areas with poor ventilation (weight rooms, small spaces) where social distancing cannot be implemented should be avoided.
  • In practices, prioritize noncontact activity, like conditioning and drills, where social distancing can be maintained. Small groups may help reduce the risk of teamwide COVID-19 outbreaks as they allow for greater social distancing, easier contact tracing, and reducing the number of athletes that need to be quarantined.
  • Minimize travel to other communities and regions for practices and competition.
  • Limit the use of carpools, buses or other shared transportation between persons outside the same household. When riding in an automobile to a sports event, encourage players to ride to the sports event with persons living in their same household, and always wear a mask if traveling with persons outside the same household.

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