Youth League And Recreational Sports Guidance Strengthened To Reduce Risk Of Covid-19 Outbreaks
No out-of-state travel; spectators limited for indoor sports; social events strongly discouraged
Montpelier, Vt. – Due to rising COVID-19 case counts throughout the Northeast, and the decisions of Massachusetts and New Hampshire officials to suspend ice rink activities due to numerous outbreaks, the State of Vermont has announced updated policies to reduce risk. Vermont-based youth and adult recreational sports are now restricted to in-state activities only, with strict limits on the number of spectators permitted in attendance at indoor sports events.
These changes apply to all Vermont-based teams, clubs, organizations and/or leagues not directly affiliated with a school. NCAA-governed intercollegiate sports and school-based sports sanctioned by the Vermont Principals Association (VPA) will continue to follow procedures and processes laid out in the higher education guidance and from the school restart guidance developed by the Agency of Education.
“These policy changes are being implemented to reduce the risk of further spread of COVID-19. While it may be challenging for some leagues, it is an added layer of protection that means we can continue to operate recreational sports programs here in Vermont, while other states have suspended them,” said Governor Phil Scott. “Put more directly, we don’t want to be where our neighbors are right now. Our goal is to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19 while preserving as many opportunities as possible for Vermonters to participate in recreational sports.”
“As we have seen, recent outbreaks across New England are being traced back to activities associated with sports events, and teams, families or individuals traveling to and from these events,” said Lindsay Kurrle, Secretary of the Agency of Commerce and Community Development. “As we have done throughout this crisis, we are following the data and science and adjusting along the way to protect the health of Vermonters. We believe this updated policy appropriately manages risk, while allowing recreational sports programs to continue to support the physical fitness and health of the kids and adults who participate.”
Travel Policy Changes for Youth & Recreation Leagues
Effective immediately, Vermont-based sports teams may only participate in sporting events in Vermont, and these events may only occur among Vermont-based teams. This means youth and adult recreational sports teams, programs and athletes may only practice, scrimmage or participate in ‘pick-up’ games or formal competitions within Vermont.
Any athlete or team leaving the state to participate in a recreational sports practice, scrimmage, pick-up game or competition must complete a quarantine before returning to work or school; visiting any public facility; or participating in any event outside of their home. This quarantine requirement applies regardless of whether the activity is taking place in a quarantine-free county on the state’s most recent cross-state travel map published by the Agency of Commerce and Community Development.
Individuals from bordering states who belong to a Vermont-based team, club, organization or league or routinely utilize a training facility in Vermont may participate if they reside in counties eligible for quarantine-free travel to Vermont (they reside in a “green county”) based on the cross-state travel map.
Updated Spectator Policy
For indoor youth recreational sports practices, scrimmages or games, the number of spectators must now be limited to a maximum of one per participating family. At no time shall the total number of people present at an event exceed current limits on event size – currently 50% of fire safety capacity or 1 person per 100 square feet, with a maximum of 75 people for indoor events. No spectators can attend adult sporting events, including games.
All other health mitigation measures for such facilities remain in place, such as policies to ensure six feet of physical distance is maintained between spectators; masking requirements for spectators and players; and participant and visitor logs with contact information.
Contact tracing of positive cases suggests that pre- and post-event social activities, as well as travel to and from games, are leading to extended close contact which increases the risk of COVID-19 transmission between participants. To reduce preventable transmission events, the updated guidance strongly discourages team-based social gatherings until all other COVID-19-specific restrictions regulating sports leagues are fully lifted.