LANSING, Mich — The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) has issued Interim Guidance for Athletics following its epidemic order allowing contact sports to resume.
That order, which was announced last week, requires that masks be worn during practices and competitions. If masks cannot be worn, participants are required to be regularly tested for the virus, as consistent with guidelines from the MDHHS.
“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.”
According to the guidance, participants need to maintain six feet of distance and wear face masks when not actively engaged in play. It is also recommended that spectators be limited to two per athlete.
“Parents and athletes need to understand the risk involved with contact sports if they choose to participate,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive and chief deputy for health at MDHHS. “Sports that require frequent closeness between players make it more difficult to prevent virus transmission even when mitigation measures are in place, including masks. Even when not required, we urge teams to implement a testing program to protect athletes, coaches and their families.”
At this time, spectators at sporting events are allowed with up to 250 people in stadiums that seat less than 10,000, and 500 people at venues that seat over 10,000.
Below is a list of recommendations included in the MDHHS guidance:
- 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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