State issues new guidance, restrictions on sports in wake of COVID-19

Local News

CHICAGO, Ill. (WCIA) — Illinois’ rising COVID-19 case and test positivity rates have prompted the issuance of new restrictions toward adult and youth recreational sports, Gov. JB Pritzker announced Wednesday.

The move comes on the same day as the Illinois High School Association meets to discuss how Fall sports could potentially move forward.

Pritzker said that watching national-level sports teams attempt to keep their players safe indicates that “there won’t be enough protection for kids on our school fields.”

“This virus is unrelenting and it spreads so easily that no amount of restrictions seems to keep it off the playing field or out of the locker room,” he said. “…When we hear the word ‘restrictions’, especially when it comes to our children’s love for their weather this year is their first time on the course, or it’s their senior year season — this isn’t news that anyone wants to hear. But this virus remains dangerous to kids and parents and grandparents, teachers and coaches and, for right now, this is the best thing that we can do for the health and safety of our families under the current circumstances.”

The newly released guidance categorizes sports into three risk levels, lower, medium, or higher, based on the amount of contact between athletes and their proximity during play. The guidance sets four levels of play allowed based on current public health conditions. In level 1, only no-contact practices and training are allowed. In level 2, intra-team scrimmages are allowed with parental consent for minors but there can be no competitive play. In level 3 intra-conference, intra-EMS-region or intra-league play is allowed and there may be state- or league-championship games allowed for low-risk sports only. In level 4, tournaments, out-of-conference/league play, and out-of-state play are allowed. Championship games would also be allowed in level 4.

This guidance takes effect Saturday, August 15th. Based on current conditions, lower risk sports can be played at levels 1, 2, and 3. Medium risk sports can be played at levels 1 and 2, and higher risk sports can be played at level 1.

Similar to other guidance, sports organizations should make temperature checks available and participants and coaches should monitor for symptoms of COVID-19 and should not participate if they are experiencing illness.  If multiple individuals have symptoms or test positive, coaches or organizations should alert the local health department.  Sports organizers or coaches also must maintain attendance logs of participants for contact tracing purposes. 

Athletic equipment such as bats and hockey sticks should be cleaned between each use.  Other equipment, including personal gear such as hockey, football, lacrosse, or other sports using helmets, pads, or gloves should only be used by one person and not shared.

Illinois first issued guidelines for youth and recreational sports in late May, when every region in the state advanced to Phase 3 of the Restore Illinois plan, marked by return to work, the reopening of retail as well as the return of specific recreational activities. The latest guidelines make adjustments to temporarily halt competitive play for most higher to medium-risk sports pending further health progress, as well as to provide additional clarity on capacity limits and high school sports.

You can read a full copy of the state’s restrictions below.

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