News Flash

Health - Public Health News

Posted on: October 16, 2020

New guidelines ease restrictions for team sports

Fall is here, and for many people it’s a time to get involved in a variety of sports. Team sports are a source of physical and mental well-being for both children and adults and create a sense of belonging and community. Recent changes in Washington’s Safe Start plan have opened up more options for youth and adult team sports.

  • The determination for what sports are allowed is based on current COVID-19 activity in the community. 
  • The changes include opening up indoor and outdoor sports for both school and non-school sports.
  • Find details about these changes in the Professional Sports & Other Sporting Activities COVID-19 Requirements from the Governor’s Office.

Which sports are riskiest?

Team sports have been placed into risk categories, based on how much potential for close contact they have. The risk categories for sports include:

  • High-risk sports: football, rugby, wrestling, cheerleading with contact, dance with contact, basketball, water polo, martial arts competitions, and roller derby.
  • Moderate-risk sports: softball, baseball, t-ball, soccer, futsal, volleyball, lacrosse, flag football, ultimate frisbee, ice hockey, cricket, gymnastics, crew, field hockey, and school bowling competitions.
  • Low-risk sports: tennis, swimming, pickleball, golf, cross country, track and field, sideline/no-contact cheer and dance, and disc golf.

What’s allowed or restricted?

All counties are able to participate in all sports to a certain degree, but high-level counties have more restrictions than low-level counties when it comes to some activities like tournaments or scrimmages.

Washington counties are also placed into categories based on COVID-19 activity:

  • High-level counties have over 75 confirmed cases/100,000 residents over the past 14 days.
  • Moderate-level counties have between 25-75 confirmed cases/100,000 residents over the past 14 days.
  • Low-level counties have fewer than 25 confirmed cases/100,000 residents over the past 14 days.

What does this mean for Whatcom County?

Whatcom County is currently a moderate-level county. This means that scrimmages and league games are allowed for low- and moderate-risk sports, and high risk sports are only allowed to have competitions that involve their immediate teammates. No tournaments are allowed, and no spectators are allowed, aside from one adult care-giver for children. These changes have been made at the state level, but local leagues may continue to remain closed. Check with your local leagues for any updates on their sports programming.

What hasn’t changed?

It’s still important to take action to prevent the spread of COVID-19 whenever possible while participating or having involvement in team sports.

  • Stay home if you are not feeling well.
  • Wear a mask directly before and after participating in sports, and any time you are not engaged in strenuous activity. Spectators, coaches and referees must wear masks at all times.
  • Keep six feet from others while not engaged in sporting activities.
  • Maintain good hygiene, like frequent hand-washing and not sharing food or drinks.
  • Clean high-touch surfaces well and often.

Exercise and physical activity can increase respiratory droplets that you breathe out when you are breathing heavily, so it’s especially important to follow guidance that will reduce the spread of the virus.

We are on our way towards slowly reopening and restarting those events and activities that have been important parts of our lives. It’s worth celebrating when we can take another step forward, but also requires us to keep up the hard work we’ve been doing. So keep masking up, maintaining six-feet of physical distance, and keeping your gatherings small, so we can continue our progress toward reopening Washington.


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