Michigan releases COVID-19 safety guidance for athletics

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services has released the COVID-19 related safety guidelines for contact sports, which are set to resume Monday.

The Interim Guidelines for Athletics states masks are required during practice and competition. If masks cannot be worn, participants must be regularly tested for COVID-19.

“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 department recommends limiting spectators to two per athlete.

Spectators will be allowed with up to 250 people in stadiums that seat less than 10,000 and up to 500 people at venues that seat over 10,000.

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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