BOSTON (WPRI) — The start of Phase 3 in Massachusetts breaks up youth sports and activities into different risk groups and levels of play.
The guidance will not govern fall K-12 and other youth sports activities, which are still under development. Fall guidance will be jointly issued by the Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, and the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.
The current guidance pertains to Step 1 of Phase 3.
Sports and recreation activities are categorized as “Lower Risk,” “Moderate Risk,”and “Higher Risk.”
Lower Risk sports and recreation activities are characterized as sports or activities that can be done with social distancing or individually.
Some examples include using batting cages, playing tennis, pickleball, swimming, surfing, horseback riding, fishing, yoga and not contact exercise classes, and more.
Moderate Risk sports and recreation activities are characterized as sports or activities that involve intermittent contact, but with protective equipment or mitigating measures in place that may reduce the likelihood of respiratory particle transmission between players. This could include wearing masks or modifying play.
A few examples of these sports include baseball, crew/sailing (2-3 people in a boat), track and field, running clubs, field hockey, volleyball, no contact lacrosse, and more.
Higher Risk sports and recreation activities are characterized as sports that involve close, sustained contact between participants, a lack of significant protective barriers, and a high probability that respiratory particles will be transmitted between participants.
Examples of High Risk sports include football, wrestling, soccer, rugby, basketball, lacrosse, ice hockey, martial arts, ultimate frisbee, and more.
Right now, Lower Risk sports can play at all four levels. Types of play are defined by level from least to greatest risk:
- Level 1: Individual or socially distanced group activities (no-contact workouts, aerobic conditioning, individual skill work, and drills)
- Level 2: Competitive Practices (Intra-team/group games, contact drills and scrimmages)
- Level 3: Competitions (Inter-team games, meets, matches, races, etc.)
- Level 4: Tournaments (Outdoor only)
Moderate sports can do everything but outdoor tournaments, and for now, higher-risk sports can only play at Level 1.
Indoor and outdoor sports facilities can open for use by adults and youth in Step 1 of Phase 3 provided safety measures are implemented by facility operators and activity organizers.
These facilities include gymnastic facilities, indoor and outdoor pools, indoor and outdoor athletic fields and courts, ice rinks, tracks, indoor gyms, martial arts and dance facilities, indoor racquet courts plus indoor batting cages.
The guidance also goes into detail about cleaning, hygiene, staffing and social distancing protocols facilities and teams will have to practice.
Dave Geaslen, runs “3 Step Sports,” a 34-state youth sports operation, and says the Department of Public Health changed its course by not allowing all youth sports to play games in Phase 3.
“The most frustrating thing is we’ve been working for months to get to Phase 3, because Phase 3 was games, and we got no games,” Geaslen said. “We’ll go back to playing sports sooner or later. It’s how many people can survive until we play again.”
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