On Friday, the California Department of Public Health released new, more liberal rules for youth outdoor and indoor and recreational sports that appear to be leading to a return of sports. The state is allowing the resumption of all outdoor sports in counties where the COVID-19 rate is 14 per 100,000 or less. According to the case count on readyslo.org, SLO County currently sits at 15.6 per 100,000, but could be below the desired target when new figures are announced next week.

The San Luis Obispo County Health Department has contacted the County Health Department to obtain an official figure for this indicator and is still waiting for a response. The California InterZonal Federation (CIF) is expected to issue a statement today.

Gov. Gavin Newsom announced the guidelines this morning at a press conference with two San Francisco 49ers and thanked the movement’s leaders who undoubtedly played a role in Friday’s announcement.

The new guidelines pave the way for outdoor sports like baseball and softball, which will be allowed to start on time, and soccer and water polo, which may even be played as early as Friday in districts with fewer than 14 residents per 100,000.

Athletes in all sports must still wear masks when not competing, may not share their personal equipment, and are encouraged to maintain as much social distance as possible. Spectators, coaches and support staff must wear masks in accordance with the guidelines of the Disability Convention.

Sports such as soccer and water polo are also offered, but athletes and coaches must be tested weekly by COVID-19 if the number of cases in the district exceeds seven per 100,000. The tests are antigen or PCR tests and are provided by the state. If participating, testing will be conducted and test results will be provided within 24 hours of the start of play.

Moderate contact sports are not tested, while many low contact sports are already tested throughout the district.

While this news indicates a return of outdoor sports, sports like basketball and volleyball are still closed.

“We will continue to work on the facilities, there is a whole team working on it, and we will be able to say more soon,” Newsome said Friday morning.

The return to soccer came at a time when the CIF decided that the season should end on April 17 so that the next season could start on time.

Once the contact rate has dropped to 14 per 100,000, youth activities involving high levels of contact with sports can be resumed. According to the new guidelines, testing will not be required for participants 13 and under because “data show that young children do not appear to be significant sources of transmission, either to each other or to adults.

If more than 50% of team members are under the age of 13, the entire team is exempt from testing. However, coaches must meet testing requirements.

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