Adult Sports Guidelines
These guidelines are effective, as updated, June 29, 2020 in St. Louis County. In accordance with the St. Louis County Department of Public Health’s (“DPH”) Second Amended Order for Business and Individual Guidelines for Social Distancing and Re-Opening, dated June 26, 2020 and effective June 29, 2020, (the “Order”) and as may be further amended. These guidelines may be replaced or modified by DPH based on new scientific information and local information including the trajectory of influenza-like illnesses, cases of COVID-19, and any other information deemed relevant to protect public health in St. Louis County.
Playing sports with or against other individuals during this time holds an inherent risk that someone may become infected and, in turn, spread the virus to other individuals in their household or community. Please consider this risk when participating in organized sports. Teams, clubs, leagues, and organizers must be familiar with recommendations from their national, state, and local governing bodies regarding illness (including but not limited to COVID-19). Resuming participation before public health authorities advise that it is safe to do so may create increased liability if an athlete is injured at a time when participation in practices or competitions may not be recommended.
The information regarding SARS-CoV-2, the virus causing the COVID-19 illness, is changing rapidly. As a result, guidance given nationally and in St. Louis County is subject to change. The guidelines provided in this document will be reviewed and updated based on new scientific information and local circumstances, and therefore, may change periodically.
The risks associated with playing sports with or against other individuals depends on the type of play and the number of individuals participating and the number of spectators of those events. The more people a player or coach interacts with, the closer the physical interaction, the more sharing of equipment there is by multiple players, and the longer that interaction, the higher the risk of COVID-19 spread.
The risk of COVID-19 spread can be different, depending on the type of activity. The risk of COVID-19 spread increases in sports setting as follows:
- Lowest risk: Performing skill-building drills or conditioning at home, alone or with family members.
- Increasing risk: Team-based practice.
- More risk: Within-team competition.
- Even more risk: Full competition between teams from the same local geographic area
- Highest risk: Full competition between teams from different geographic areas.
Tournaments, because they are in the highest risk category, are not allowed to be played at this time. Traveling outside of the local community may increase the changes of exposing players, coaches, and spectators to COVID-19, or unknowingly spreading it to others. This is the case particularly if a team from an area with high levels of COVID-19 competes with a team from an area with low levels of the virus. Local sports teams must compete only against teams in the St. Louis region.
- Social distancing is required, therefore, 6 feet distance between individuals must be applied at all times, when possible, and all unnecessary physical contact must be minimized.
- Athletes, coaches, officials, referees, and umpires shall undergo a health screening and temperature check prior to starting any sports activity.
- Screening times and practice or competition start times must be spaced out to limit overlap or intermingling of athletes coming and going. Fields or courts must be clear before the next group of athletes practicing or competing on the field or court begins.
- Spectators will be allowed as long as family groups socially distance from other family groups, at a distance of at least 6 feet, do not mingle with players or other family groups and wear a face covering. No congregating shall be allowed in the parking lot or fields.
- The number of players sitting in confined player seating areas (e.g., dugouts) should be limited to allow for social distancing.
- Coaches, officials, referees, and umpires must wear face coverings. Players, when not playing or training must wear face coverings.
- Hand hygiene is essential. Organizations and facilities shall promote frequent and effective hand hygiene by supplying ample hand sanitizer (>60% alcohol) dispensers and hand-washing stations stocked with soap and water.
- The use of locker rooms is not recommended. If they must be used, proper social distancing must apply within the locker room (i.e. only every 3rd locker used, etc.). Proper area for equipment storage and cleaning is recommended.
- Do not share water bottles. An individual athlete may use their own water bottle, which should be clearly marked with their name. Cups used for water should be single-use and disposable.
- Coolers must be properly sanitized after each use, and each team or group shall have its own cooler.
- Follow CDC guidance for cleaning and disinfecting coolers.
- Ice towels shall be used only once, then discarded or washed properly.
- Avoid whirlpools or cold/hot tubs. If they are required in an emergency, follow best practices.
- Have a cold water immersion tub on-site or within 5 minutes of the field.
- Have ice towels ready on the field for cooling during breaks and for covering the head in the event that an athlete has an exertional heatstroke and needs to be immersed. CDC guidance for cleaning and disinfecting should be followed.
- Do not allow team huddles.
- Do not allow handshakes, fist bumps, or other unnecessary physical contact.
- Any shared equipment must be disinfected with EPA certified products. Each team should provide their own equipment. Equipment should be disinfected, as often as possible, after each use, or after each inning or play period.
- Any jerseys used during these workouts must be washed daily.
Special Considerations for Athletes and Coaches
Athletes and coaches should consider delaying their participation in sports and athletic activities if they have any of the following conditions:
- Chronic lung disease, including asthma
- Severe obesity (BMI>40)
- Chronic kidney disease
- Heart conditions
- Immunocompromised (e.g. any transplant recipient, needing immunosuppressant medications (e.g. steroids, biologics, etc.), patients receiving chemotherapy, etc.)
- Age greater than 60 years
- Every coach and athlete must be screened when they enter the campus, field, court or facility where the sporting activity will occur. They should wear a face mask for the duration of the health screening if possible.
- Designate a consistent person to provide healthcare screenings. This person must wear a face mask and gloves when screening others.
- Screen each individual by asking if they have experienced any of the following symptoms within the past 24 hours:
- Fever (temperature greater than 100.4)
- New or worsening cough
- Shortness of breath or trouble breathing
- Sore throat, different than your seasonal allergies
- New loss of smell and/or taste
- Diarrhea or vomiting
- Ask if they have a household or close contact who has been diagnosed with COVID-19 in the past 2 weeks.
- Check each person for fever using a thermometer. 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit and above is considered a fever.
- If an athlete, coach, or official reports affirmative to any of the above COVID-19 screening questions or has a fever they shall be sent home immediately. The athlete, coach, or official shall not be allowed back until they are symptom-free.
- After the athlete, coach, or official is screened, they should receive an indicator that signifies that they have been screened (i.e. colored wrist band, sticker that changes daily, mark on hand) with the current date and initials of the screener. Athletes do not need to wear masks during play.
- If the individual has health-related questions, they shall consult with their health care provider.
- Individuals returning to sports after a COVID-19 diagnosis must consult with their medical provider and local public health department.
Sports with low contact frequency are permitted at this time for adults.
- These include diving, extreme sports, rodeo, water skiing, adventure racing, bicycling, canoeing or kayaking, field events (high jump, pole vault, javelin, shot-put), golf, horseback riding, skating (ice, in-line, roller), skateboarding, weight lifting, windsurfing, badminton, golf, orienteering, fishing, riflery, rope jumping, running, sailing, scuba diving, swimming, table tennis, tennis, track.
At this time, sports with high contact frequency are permitted, if practiced or played by reducing the contact frequency as much as possible and with the understanding that the athletes are accepting the inherent risks in participating in high contact frequency sports. No tournaments, however, may be played at this time.
- These include baseball, basketball, bodybuilding, boxing, bowling, cheerleading, crew/rowing, dance team, fencing, floor hockey, field hockey, gymnastics, tackle/flag/touch football, ice hockey, lacrosse, martial arts, racquetball, rugby, soccer, softball, handball, ultimate frisbee, volleyball, water polo, wrestling.
With these high-frequency contact sports activities, it is recommended that participants practice socially distancing related to these sports is by:
- Reducing the number of individuals to the minimum required to play the sport.
- 6-foot social distancing is required and must be applied at all times.
- Equipment must not be touched by more than one player unless the equipment is sanitized after each player’s use.
Semi-Professional and Professional Sports
All organized professional sporting events, including, but not limited to, minor league practices and games and professional team practices must comply with the following restrictions:
- Spectators must be limited to the lesser of 50% of the capacity of the stadium or facility or the number of individuals that can be seated with a distance of at least 6 feet separating each individual or group. Groups must consist of members of the same household and cannot exceed 10 people.
- Spectators must wear face coverings.
- As respiratory infections can be transmitted by aerosoled particles, spectators and players must refrain from yelling or cheering before, during, and after the game unless they are wearing a face covering.
- The stadium or facility must comply with all social distancing restrictions and disinfection processes.
All stadiums and other facilities accommodating or sponsoring semi-professional and professional sports, must submit a plan for approval of operating procedures with DPH.
In order to comply with the requirement to provide the necessary information for DPH to conduct contact investigations in the event a player, coach or any other participant, tests positive for COVID-19, a record must be maintained of all participants at each practice or competition, including coaches, umpires and players.
Adapted from Resocialization of Sports in the St. Louis Region