New State Guidelines Loosen Restrictions On Outdoor Youth Sports

Feb 19, 2021

Credit USAG-Humphreys / Flickr Creative Commons

Gov. Gavin Newsom has announced new guidelines to loosen coronavirus restrictions on youth sports. 

Starting next Friday, all outdoor sports can resume in counties — including those in the most restrictive purple and red tiers — where COVID-19 rates are at or below 14 cases per 100,000 people. 

Newsom said the step will help children to get “back to social-emotional, the mental and physical health and resume activities that are much more positive in terms of their life's choices."

Nearly half of California’s 58 counties meet the new threshold allowing outdoor sports to resume. The new guidance applies to youth sports and adult recreation leagues. 

“With case rates and hospitalizations declining across California, we are allowing outdoor competition to resume, with modifications and steps to reduce risk," said Dr. Tomás Aragón, CDPH Director and State Public Health Officer, in a press release.

Weekly testing will be required for high contact sports — like football and rugby — for coaches and athletes ages 13 and up, in counties where the case rate is between 7 and 14 cases per 100,000. 

Youth sports advocates are embracing the new guidance, and hope restrictions will loosen further as cases continue to drop. 

“At the end of the day, this is a first step,” said Ron Gladnick, a high school football coach in San Diego and a leader of the organization Let Them Play. “[It’s] a step as a coaches’ association we intend to build on, because there are other issues that need to be addressed.”

Leaders from Let Them Play say they want to ensure teams in disadvantaged areas will have the necessary resources to meet any testing requirements. 

Indoor sports can only resume in counties under the least-restrictive orange and yellow tiers. Advocates are hoping to tackle that issue next.

County health officials and school districts can impose additional restrictions that go beyond the state’s new criteria.