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Gov. Pritzker Releases Restrictions For Youth Sports In Illinois, COVID-19 Cases

CHICAGO (CBS) — Citing the rising rate of COVID-19 spread in Illinois, Governor Pritzker announced a set of guidelines and restrictions for youth sports.

Under the state’s Restore Illinois Phase 4 plan, youth and recreational sports venues can operate at maximum of 50% of facility capacity. At the max, 20% seating capacity for spectators, with groups of up to 50. According to the state “capacity restrictions and group sizes will be reassessed based on the latest science and public health data on an ongoing basis throughout Phase 4.”

“As much as I’d like to, this virus isn’t something that we can wish away. So we have to act responsibly and collectively to protect the people that we love,” the governor said. “There are certain sports, whose seasons can move forward with more limited restrictions tennis and baseball as examples simply don’t carry the higher risk inherent in contact sports like wrestling and football.”

Pritzker said there are three levels of risk that helped to determine which sports have what restrictions. They are categorized into lower, medium and higher.

“Think of these guidelines like a grid. Three risk levels of sports and four tiers of levels of play, based on current public health conditions at each of the four tiers, different aspects of play are permitted from no contact practices that includes conditioning and training at level one to full scale tournaments in level four effective, August 15,” Pritzker said. “Lower risk sports like tennis, and baseball and golf can be played at levels one two and three, with activities like no contact practices teams scrimmages and certain competitive games allowed with DPH safety guidance.”

The governor said “at risk” sports including basketball, soccer and volleyball can take place as levels one and two with no contact practices and team scrimmages allowed and higher risk sports like football. Hockey and lacrosse can be played at level one, with no contact practices and trainings and conditioning.

*Any additional team members not participating in gameplay should sit on the sidelines six feet apart from one another

*During practice as well as competitive games, multiple groups of 50 or fewer participants permitted at once as long as the following are followed: Venue allows for social distancing of participants, employees and spectators, 30-feet of distancing is maintained between groups/opposing teams on the sidelines, areas for each group are clearly marked to discourage interaction between groups outside of competitive game play

* Sport organizers should design a plan to allow for social distancing within the venue and if needed, designate employee(s) or coaches to monitor capacity limits and social distancing 5

*Sport organizers should limit the occupancy of common areas/ break rooms to allow for social distancing of six feet or greater by removing/decommissioning furniture or staggering break times.

*Encouraged best practices Stagger game and practice times to minimize congregation of groups. Teams/ groups should be static, with no mixing of employees or participants between groups for the duration of the season, if practical. Teams/ groups should not add new participants once the season has started. And if practical, assign participants from the same household to the same team or group

Pritzker said the decision was made by coordinating several state agencies, including the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO), and the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE).

The governor said he sympathized with student athletes and their families because their seasons and tournaments were cut short this year by COVID 19. But he said it was important to put the restrictions in place for the youth and the people who are with them during the games.

“With rising rates have spread of the virus, with rising positivity rates throughout Illinois, and the entire United States, this is a situation where the toughest choice is also the safest choice,” Pritzker said.

The guidelines are a little different for tennis, which has athletes playing at a distance. Click here for more information on all the restrictions and levels of play.

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