High school football and basketball won’t be allowed in counties under the state’s purple or red Covid tiers, the California Department of Public Health has ruled.
Both San Mateo and Santa Clara counties are in the purple tier, the most restrictive of the tiers.
For those sports to resume, the counties would have to drop by two tier levels to the moderate orange tier.
The department released new rules on Monday night about which high school and recreational adult sports will be allowed during the pandemic.
Many school districts were hoping to begin high school football in January, but this latest change appears to have squelched that idea. The basketball season, which was supposed to start in March, is in jeopardy now too.
Sports are grouped in each of the four tiers by their potential for the virus to spread, with factors including how much contact players make with each other and whether a sport or activity is played indoors or outdoors.
“I know as a parent and athlete myself, how important exercise is to maintain physical and mental health, and we encourage members of the same household to do physical activities together and outdoors until the current and alarming surge passes,” said Dr. Erica Pan, the state’s acting public health officer.
Outdoor physical conditioning, practice and skill training are all allowed across the state, including in counties that have implemented a stay-at-home order or are under the state’s stay-at-home order.
Residents in a county with a stay-at-home order are strongly encouraged to avoid exercising with people from another household under any circumstance.
“Despite how hard it has been to do this for so many months, it’s imperative now more than ever that we all follow public health guidance by staying home and not mixing with other households,” Pan said.
The state health department developed the guidelines after consulting with the California Interscholastic Federation and the California Association of Recreation and Park Districts. However, no public hearings were held. The guidelines were not voted upon by the Legislature. The guidelines were issued by the same health department that told Californians in March that the shutdown order would only last three weeks in order to “flatten the curve” of Covid cases.
More than two dozen sports and exercise activities are allowed in the most-restrictive “purple” tier, according to the new guidelines, including biking, golf, ice and roller skating, programs like yoga and Zumba, running, swimming, skiing, snowboarding and hiking.
For sports in all four tiers, competition will not be allowed to resume statewide until Jan. 25 at the earliest.
State officials will re-evaluate that date in early January depending on the state of the pandemic and the state’s capacity of hospital and intensive care unit beds.
“We need everyone to take seriously their responsibility to protect their entire community, and in the meantime, we all can look forward to these activities we can resume in 2021,” Pan said.
The list of which sports and activities are allowed in each tier can be found at https://www.cdph.ca.gov/Programs/CID/DCDC/Pages/COVID-19/outdoor-indoor-recreational-sports.aspx. — Staff and wire reports