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Adult Sports Guidelines

Changes effective April 9, 2021: Officials officiating games OUTDOORS are not required to wear a face covering while officiating.

Changes effective April 16, 2021:

  • Players engaged in sports considered to be low frequency of contact sports, are not required to wear a face covering while actively engaged in that sport INDOORS as well as OUTDOORS.

  • The requirement that temperatures be taken for screening players, officials and spectators has been eliminated.

  • Apr 16, 2021

Adult Sports Guidelines


These guidelines are effective April 16, 2021. In accordance with the St. Louis County Department of Public Health’s (“DPH”) Fifth Amended Safer At Home Order effective April 9, 2021, 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.

Changes effective April 9, 2021: Officials officiating games OUTDOORS are not required to wear a face covering while officiating.

Changes effective April 16, 2021:

  • Players engaged in sports considered to be low frequency of contact sports, are not required to wear a face covering while actively engaged in that sport INDOORS as well as OUTDOORS.

  • The requirement that temperatures be taken for screening players, officials and spectators has been eliminated.


Guiding principles

Playing sports with or against other individuals during this time holds an inherent risk that someone may be infected and, in turn, spread the virus to others 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).

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.

These guidelines are being updated at this time due to the decreasing number of cases of COVID-19 in St. Louis County.

Types of activities

According to the CDC, the risk of COVID-19 spread increases in sports settings is 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.

These guidelines incorporate this CDC risk assessment.

Types of sports

In accordance with the CDC’s risk assessments in a sports setting, sports are classified based on the level of contact between players, as low frequency of contact, moderate frequency of contact or high frequency of contact.

  • High frequency of contact sports include basketball, boxing, ice hockey tackle/flag/touch football, martial arts, rugby, water polo, and wrestling.
  • Moderate frequency of contact sports include baseball, cheerleading, crew/rowing, dance team, fencing, floor hockey, field hockey, lacrosse, racquetball, soccer, softball, team handball, ultimate frisbee, and volleyball.
  • Low frequency of contact sports include diving, extreme sports, gymnastics, rodeo, water skiing, adventure racing, bicycling, canoeing/kayaking, field events (high jump, pole vault, javelin, shot-put), golf, handball, horseback riding, skating (ice, in-line, roller), skateboarding, weight lifting, windsurfing, badminton, bodybuilding, bowling, orienteering, fishing, riflery, rope jumping, running, sailing, scuba diving, swimming, table tennis, tennis, and track.

For sports or activities not included in the above categories that are similar in nature to such other sports or activities, please apply the category most closely associated with the sport or activity. If there is any question regarding the categorization of an activity, please contact the DPH to determine which category applies.


The restrictions and requirements of these adult sports guidelines apply to all individuals age 19 or older.

  • All college sports are allowed if the activity’s governing body and conference governing body allow the sport to be played and provide specific recommendations for the division and players to follow.
  • All organized professional sporting events, including, but not limited to, minor league practices and games and professional team practices (as well as individual professional sports) are allowed if they comply with the following restrictions:
    • Spectators are permitted as long as a plan to allow spectators is specifically approved by DPH.
    • The owners or operators of all stadiums and other facilities accommodating or sponsoring semi-professional and professional sports must submit an operating plan for approval by DPH. No owner or operator of a stadium or facility may allow such use until DPH has approved the submitted plan and operations must proceed in accordance with amendments to said plan as required by DPH.

Restrictions and requirements

The following restrictions and requirements apply to all high frequency of contact sports, moderate frequency of contact sports and low frequency of contact sports:

  • Full team practices are allowed, with no limit on the number of participants
  • Games and competitions with other teams are allowed. If a team is from outside St. Louis County, that team must agree to comply and comply with these guidelines to play in St. Louis County.
  • See Section below for Restrictions on Tournaments.
  • Social distancing MUST be maintained as much as reasonably possible during practice and games.
  • Players and officials engaged in high or moderate frequency of contact sports MUST wear a face covering, including during, games, practices and while training if done indoors.
  • Players and officials engaged in low frequency of contact sports indoors are allowed not to wear a face covering during games, practices and while training. Those players and officials MUST wear a face covering while not actively engaged in the sport.
  • If the practice or game is outdoors, the players and officials are not required to wear a face covering while engaging in vigorous physical activity.
  • Coaches MUST remain in mask/face coverings at all times.
  • Players and coaches MUST sanitize hands and equipment regularly. Every individual participating in a practice or game, including coaches, must be screened every day that an individual participates in youth sports.
  • All equipment (such as bats, sticks, helmets, etc.) must be disinfected between individual uses.
  • Spectators must be limited. If indoors, spectator capacity is limited by the percentage allowed by DPH Order for indoor spaces, or the number of spectators that can socially distance in the space allowed for spectators, WHICHEVER IS LESS.
  • No two teams for different scheduled competitions should be in the same location at one time. If the same field, gym, or enclosed room will be used in the same day by more than one team, teams must allow 15 minutes between games or practices and allow the prior teams and spectators time to leave the area.


Tournaments, performances, competitions, meets, invitationals and showcases are permitted as long as they are conducted as if they are a single competition, including:

  • Allow only the two competing teams to be on the field of play, court, rink, gym or other warm up area, at a time.
  • Only allow the next two competing teams on the field of play, court, rink, gym or other warm up area, after the other teams have left.
  • Schedule games so there is a time period allowed between each game for each team to arrive and exit without encountering the teams playing before and after.
  • Do not allow congregating of teams or spectators before or after the games.
  • Do not allow spectators around the fields, in the stands or inside gymnasiums until 15 minutes before scheduled games and require them to leave within 15 minutes or immediately following the completion of the game.
  • Teams from outside St. Louis County are allowed to play as long as the sponsors, coaches, players and spectators agree to abide by these guidelines.
  • Spectators must be socially distanced and wear Face Coverings.
  • For outdoor activities, the number of spectators must not exceed a number that can socially distance.
  • Spectators must be limited indoors. Spectator capacity is limited by the percentage allowed by DPH Order for indoor spaces, or the number of spectators that can socially distance in the space allowed for spectators, WHICHEVER IS LESS.
  • For outdoor activities, such as track and field or cross-country, no congregating in tents, that are not serving a medical purpose, is allowed and Spectators must be limited and spread out to allow for social distancing.

The permitted activities must be conducted with the following safety measures:

  • Athletes and coaches shall undergo a health screening prior to starting any sports activity allowed by these guidelines.
  • No congregating in parking lots or fields.
  • Athletes and officials must wear a face covering, including during practices, games and while training indoors. While practicing, during games and while training outdoors players and officials must wear face coverings while not actively involved in vigorous physical activity.
  • Coaches must wear a face covering at all times.
  • Screening times and practice start times must be spaced out to limit the number of athletes and others in the area.
  • The number of players sitting in confined areas (e.g., dugouts) must be limited to allow for social distancing.
  • Hand hygiene is essential. Organizations and facilities shall promote frequent and effective hand hygiene by supplying ample hand sanitizer dispensers and hand-washing stations.
  • The use of locker rooms is not recommended. If they must be used, social distancing (e.g. only every 3rd locker used) and mask requirements apply within the locker room. Do not bring gear or equipment into the locker room. Cleaning is required and equipment must be stored in a designated area.
  • Organizations and facilities should keep a written record of individuals present, including contact information for contact tracing purposes.
  • No congregating shall be allowed by any other individuals who would otherwise be spectators, other than the athletes and coaches, at the fields or outside of their individual modes of transportation.
  • Water bottles must not be shared. 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.
  • CDC guidance for cleaning and disinfecting coolers must be followed.
  • Whirlpools or cold/hot tubs should be avoided. 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.
  • If ice towels are available, CDC guidance for cleaning and disinfecting should be followed. Ice towels shall be used only once, then discarded or washed properly.
  • Team huddles, handshakes, fist bumps, and other unnecessary physical contact are not allowed.
  • Any shared equipment must be disinfected with EPA certified products. Equipment should be disinfected, if possible, after each use, or after each inning or play period.
  • Any jerseys used during these workouts must be washed daily and not shared among players.


Every coach and athlete must be screened when they enter the campus or facility where the sporting activity will occur. They must wear a face mask for the duration of the health screening unless masking is not possible due to a medical condition. A consistent person should be designated to provide health screenings. This person must wear a face mask and gloves when screening others.

The screening process is as follows:

  • Ask each individual if they have experienced any of the following new or worsening symptoms within the past 24 hours:
    • Fever (temperature greater than 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit)
    • Cough
    • Shortness of breath or trouble breathing
    • Sore throat, different than your seasonal allergies
    • Loss of smell and/or taste
    • Diarrhea or vomiting
  • Ask if they have a close contact who has been diagnosed with COVID-19 in the past 2 weeks.

Positive screenings or known cases/exposures

If an athlete, coach, or official answers “yes” to any of the screening questions they should be sent home immediately and told to contact their medical provider. The athlete, coach, or official shall not be allowed back until they are symptom-free.

Individuals who have had a significant exposure (defined as direct contact or prolonged exposure within 6 feet) to a COVID-19-positive individual must quarantine for a minimum of 14 days from the last date of exposure to the COVID-19-positive individual. If the exposed individual has a negative SARS-Cov 2 test, they still must quarantine for 14 days. If the exposed individual develops symptoms during these 14 days, testing for SARS Cov-2 should occur.

The coach, or other official as applicable, is required to notify the Saint Louis County Department of Public Health of the positive screening, known case or exposure. The notifying individual must provide information regarding all known contacts of the positive-screened, infected or exposed individual. To aid in this contact tracing, all schools, coaches, and other officials conducting the practice must keep a detailed account of all the participants at each practice.

If the individual has health-related questions, the individual must consult with the individual’s own health care provider.

Individuals returning to sports after a COVID-19 diagnosis must consult with both their own health care provider and the Department of Public Health. Only the Saint Louis County Department of Public Health can release a county resident from quarantine or isolation.

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:

  • Diabetes
  • Chronic lung disease, including asthma
  • Severe obesity (BMI>40)
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Heart conditions
  • Pregnancy
  • Immunocompromised (e.g. any transplant recipient, needing immunosuppressant medications (e.g. steroids, biologics, etc.), patients receiving chemotherapy, etc.)
  • Age greater than 60 years

Individuals with these risk factors should consider consulting with their healthcare provider about participation in sports or coaching.


Organizations, teams, coaches, and players must understand the importance of enforcing these restrictions and requirements so that individuals may continue to participate in sporting activities. Under DPH orders, Saint Louis County can require an organization or team to cease otherwise permitted activities if the restrictions and requirements are not being followed. In addition to the expectation that organizations, teams, coaches and players will enforce the requirements set forth in these guidelines, all other enforcement actions, including Department of Public Health ordered closure, civil action, and criminal action, remain available to enforce these guidelines.

No ancillary gatherings and meetings with respect to the organization, team or practice should be sanctioned or sponsored.

Organizations, teams, and coaches must, in accordance with DPH Orders, cooperate and assist in contact tracing, including maintaining list of players attending practices.