State issues updated sports guidance, recommendations, and sector rules for the winter season

The Connecticut Department of Public Health today released updated comprehensive sports guidance incorporating sports to be played in the winter season for both interscholastic leagues, recreational, and private leagues for youth and adults.

The department’s recommendations will be codified as part of the updated sector rules on sports from the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development, and do not apply to college-level or professional athletics. This revision updates comprehensive sports guidance released on September 25 and is intended to guide local health departments, municipalities, and league organizers in assessing the risk of play, and offer suggestions to reduce risk of COVID-19 infection to players, coaches, parents and spectators.

This guidance is based on a risk assessment for COVID-19 conducted by the Sports Medicine Advisory Committee of the National Federation of High School Associations (NFHS), a national organization governing high school athletics. The guidance includes a description of the risk categories for sports, breaks down the risks of different activity associated with those sports, and makes recommendations for each of those activities.

“As we get into the winter season, there is a higher level of community spread of COVID-19 than there was a few months ago, and that impacts athletes in all sports, especially those played indoors,” Acting Public Health Commissioner Dr. Deidre S. Gifford said.

“It is still important to remain as physically active as possible during the winter and I encourage that. It will be important going forward that sports league or event organizers give their coaches and players the tools to mitigate risks of transmission as much as possible. For our youth, this also clearly applies uniformly to sports played as part of a school-based league and private or recreational leagues. We have seen clusters of cases related to individual teams and sporting events, and this can be very disruptive to schools if youth or anyone else exposed then needs to quarantine due to exposure. Even though the effects of COVID-19 in youth tend to be less significant, children can easily spread infection to more vulnerable members of our community if exposed.”

“Our broader reopening strategy has always been focused on striking the right balance between allowing as much social and economic activity as possible while making sure the appropriate protocols are in place to keep our residents safe. Sports is certainly no exception,” Economic and Community Development Commissioner David Lehman said. “We know how much these types of activities mean to our overall quality of life in Connecticut and I feel these new guidelines offer a smart path forward during the critical winter months.”

The full sports guidance document can be found online and is meant to be used as a tool to help organizers of athletic leagues for both children and adults.


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