New athletics guidance allows outdoor sports, even in purple tier

The California Department of Public Health today announced that youth and recreational sports will be allowed to resume in counties with fewer than 14 positive COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents. The new rules apply to all organized youth and adult sports and take effect next Friday, Feb. 26.

Gov. Gavin Newsom was joined by San Francisco 49ers players Arik Armstead and Josh Johnson in a press conference today announcing the guidelines. The men, who advocated for the return of youth and recreational sports, spoke about the impact sports had on their lives growing up. “Sports was my gateway out of the struggles I endured in Oakland,” said Johnson. “I don’t know where I’d be without sports.”

“We’re moving with caution, using science, around allowing outdoor youth sport activities versus indoor activities,” said Newsom.

The new guidelines require that, in counties with positive case rates between seven and 14 per 100,000 residents, people age 13 and older be tested every week to play or coach football, rugby and water polo. Test results must be available within 24 hours of competitions. In the press conference, Gov. Newsom said the state would cover the cost of the tests.

Lower-contact sports —including baseball, cheerleading, outdoor volleyball, softball and tennis — will not have a testing requirement. Parents of children participating in the sports outlined in the guidance must be provided with information regarding the risks of minors participating in such sports, and have each parent sign an informed consent indicating their understanding and acknowledgement of the risks indicated.

General requirements for all sports

  • Face coverings to be worn when not participating in the activity (e.g., on the sidelines).
  • Face coverings to be worn by coaches, support staff and observers at all times, and in compliance with the CDPH Guidance for the Use of Face Coverings.
  • Observers maintain at least 6 feet from non-household members.
  • No sharing of drink bottles and other personal items and equipment.
  • Mixing with other households prior to and post any practice or competition must strictly adhere to current gathering guidance.
  • Limit indoor sports activities (practice, conditioning) to comply with capacity limits indicated in current CDPH Gym & Fitness Center Guidance Capacity.
  • Associated indoor activities for the team (e.g., dinners, film study) are prohibited if engaged in competition given evidence that transmission is more likely to occur in these indoor higher-risk settings.
  • Teams must not participate in out-of-state games and tournaments; several multistate outbreaks have been reported around the nation, including California residents.

The guidance also covers limits on observers and inter-team competition and tournaments. Read the guidance.