Gov. Whitmer Allows Organized Sports With Strict Safety Measures

Today, Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed Executive Order 2020-176 allowing for organized sports practices and competitions to resume in those regions where they remain restricted, subject to strict protections meant to limit spread of the virus.

“Individuals can now choose whether or not to play organized sports, and if they do choose to play, this order requires strict safety measures to reduce risk,” said Chief Medical Executive and MDHHS Chief Deputy for Health Dr. Joneigh Khaldun. “However, we know of 30 reported outbreaks involving athletic teams and facilities in August. Based on current data, contact sports create a high risk of COVID-19 transmission and MDHHS strongly recommends against participating in them at this time. We are not out of the woods yet. COVID-19 is still a very real threat to our families.”

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) also released guidance today on organized sports. The document recommends against contact sports at this time, defined to mean those sports involving more than occasional and fleeting contact, including football, basketball, and soccer. It also cites the elevated risk associated with activities that involve “shouting, singing, or breathing forcefully,” and notes there have been 30 reported outbreaks associated with athletic clubs, teams, or athletic facilities.

These recommendations include frequent hand washing, not letting players share towels, clothing, or other items they use to wipe their faces or hands, ensuring proper cleaning and disinfection of objects and equipment, prioritizing outdoor practice, and more.or

Spectators for indoor organized sports are limited to the guests of the athletes with each athlete designating up to two guests. For outdoor sports competitions, the organizer of the competitions must either limit the audience to the guests of the participants with each athlete designating up to two guests, or limit total attendance to 100 people or fewer, including all participants like athletes, coaches, and staff.

“We are pleased with the opportunity to move forward. Our Association continues to work with a team from the University of Michigan’s School of Public Health to ensure the safety of approximately 90,000 players and 11,000 team officials,” said Thomas Faro, Executive Director of the Michigan State Youth Soccer Association. “We will continue these efforts through our return to play guidelines and in strict accordance with Governor Whitmer’s Executive Orders.”

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