PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) ─ In an effort to keep young athletes safe while also allowing their seasons to continue, Gov. Gina Raimondo announced new regulations for youth sports Thursday.
Last week, Raimondo banned spectators and shut down indoor athletic facilities.
Going forward, two spectators will be allowed per athlete under 18 years of age, she said, and masks are now required among athletes, coaches and spectators at all times during both practices and games.
“That’s a significant change. I know that’s hard and I know it won’t be popular, but I think it’s the only way we can allow competitive sports to continue indoors while keeping people safe,” Raimondo said.
Indoor facilities can reopen on Monday as long as the guidelines are followed, but Raimondo said new rules for locker rooms are forthcoming, which will include capacity, spacing, and cleaning protocols.
Raimondo also ordered an end to interstate travel for sports considered to be high or moderate risk, such as basketball.
Nuri Mahmoud, Co-Director of the Rhode Island Elite AAU Basketball League, said they stopped traveling to other states months ago as a precaution.
“We just found ways to have closed events,” he said. “We have some scrimmages that we live streamed to coaches, and did events like that early on at the beginning of the school year and throughout the summer.”
Mahmoud said his players are still thriving despite the restrictions, adding that six students received scholarship offers during the pandemic.
“We’ve still found pathways to find success despite some of the things that have happened because of the pandemic,” he said.
Volleyball and football were never allowed to resume this fall, but other seasonal sports are still moving forward with championships over the next two weeks.
The Rhode Island Interscholastic League tells 12 News a decision hasn’t been made regarding winter sports at this time.