The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) last Friday announced that youth sports would be able to resume as soon as this week.

In a press release, the MDH recommended that outdoor youth sports participation -- including games and scrimmages -- can resume Wednesday, June 24 and indoor sports a week later July 1.  The recommendations seek "to balance the goals of minimizing disease transmission and allowing young people to engage in sports activities that have important physical, emotional and social benefits."

According to the COVID-19 Sports Guidance for Youth and Adults, organized sports for all ages should be kept to pods of no more than 25 participants indoor and outdoor in non-game settings. Having pods, says the guideline, lowers the risk of spreading a disease between individuals, and intermixing between pods is therefore encouraged to be kept to a minimum.

The MDH guidelines are similar to those of national sports organizations which recommend returning to sports in phases, including spending time on individual development before moving to intra-team scrimmages and finally to inter-team games.

"Continued dial turns toward more openness and activity across the state depend in large part on the willingness and ability of Minnesotans to practice the important everyday steps that help slow the spread of COVID-19," reads the MDH announcement. "The new guidance asks coaches, staff and spectators to practice social distancing and to wear a face covering at all times. Players are asked to wear a face covering when possible. All adults and children involved in the activities should wash or sanitize hands often, and keep hands away from their faces." All athletic organizations are also required to have a COVID-19 preparedness plan that integrates MDH guidance and proper social distancing and gathering requirements.

Additional precautions from the MDH include:

  • Avoid sharing individual water bottles, community snacks or towels.
  • Encourage use of dedicated personal equipment such as bats, mitts, rackets, etc.
  • Find new ways to show sportsmanship – tip your hats instead of handshakes.
  • Ensure policies are considerate of staff, volunteers and participants at highest risk of complications from COVID-19.
  • Adhere to social distancing recommendations when participants are not playing (on the bench, in the dugout, etc.).
  • Practice social distancing of 6 feet from other households during player drop off/pick up.
  • Friends and family should not attend practices to avoid crowding.
  • Maintain health checks and screening of participants and staff/volunteers.
  • Organizations should require participants and family members to stay home when sick.

Read the full news release regarding youth sports during COVID-19 here and COVID-19 Sports Guidance for Youth and Adults here.

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