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Gov. DeWine releases state order on COVID-19 and the return to sports | Read the entire order here

The order calls for following social distancing rules and outlines penalties for violating the law.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — The state of Ohio released its long-awaited order that allows for sports to resume in the state, as long as COVID-19 safety protocols are followed. 

The order issued Wednesday says that all sports are permitted to practice and engage in competition as long as teams comply with all provisions of the order. This applies to all sports - youth, collegiate, amateur, club and professional. Sports are permitted to "practice and engage in competition within the State."

Sports participants are also expected to comply with any additional health rules for the prevention of COVID-19 from their governing authorities. If there is a conflict on the rules between the state health order and the governing body's rules, participants are expected to follow the rule "that is most restrictive on their activities," the state's order says, 

Social distancing requirements for sports include maintaining at least six-foot distancing from other individuals, washing hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds as frequently as possible or using hand sanitizer, covering coughs or sneezes, regularly cleaning high-touch surfaces and not shaking hands. 


The safety requirements that players, coaches, trainers and officials must follow include: 

  • Conducting daily symptom checks
  • Keeping people with COVID-19 symptoms at home
  • Coaches are to undergo COVID-19 education developed for them by the Ohio Department of Health
  • No one can congregate before or after games or practices. This includes spectators. 
  • Coaches, trainers, volunteers and officials must wear face coverings at all times
  • Players are to wear face coverings at all times except when on the field of play
  • Coaches and officials do not need to wear face coverings during games and practices, in order to allow the use of whistles to be heard
  • Players should be encouraged to wear face coverings at home to protect their family members who may be at a higher risk of developing complications from COVID-19.


The safety requirements that spectators must follow include: 

  • Conducting daily symptom checks
  • Staying home if COVID-19 symptoms are being experienced
  • Families and household members are to sit together, socially-distanced from other individuals/family groups
  • No congregating before or after games or practices
  • Spectators are to wear face coverings at all times except for one of the reasons stated in the health director's order for facial coverings in the state of Ohio. 
  • It is recommended that in the context of youth sports that school and organization officials should prioritize ticket distribution/event access to the participants' family and household members, if possible. 


As far as enforcement goes, the venue or sponsoring organization or affiliated school has a duty to ensure that the order is followed by all participating in the game, be it athlete or spectator. Each athletic event host is to designate in writing a compliance officer whose responsibility it is to ensure that all requirements of the order are followed and that person should also be the contact person for the local health department, sheriff's department or any other local law enforcement agency that has jurisdiction over the sporting event. 

The order may be enforced by state and local law enforcement, as specified in Ohio Revised Code R.C. 3701.352: "no person shall violate any rule the director of health adopts or any order the director of health or department of health adopts or any order the director or department of health issues under this chapter to prevent a threat to the public caused by a pandemic, epidemic or bioterrorism event." R.C. 3701.56 says that "boards of health of a general or city health district, health authorities and officials, officers of state institutions, police officers, sheriffs, constables, and other officers and employees of the state or any county, city or township shall enforce quarantine and isolation orders, and the rules the department of health adopts." 

A person found guilty of violating the law is guilty of a  misdemeanor of the second degree, which can include a fine of not more than $750 or not more than 90 days in jail or both.