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Youth sporting events and competitions are outlawed in California for time being, but practices may go on with strict regulations, according to new state coronavirus safety guidelines released Monday evening.

As long as the training allows for six feet of distancing between participants, new guidance from the California Department of Public Health will allow for teams to practice. The state’s new rules cover school-affiliated, club and recreational youth sports programs. They also place physical education classes in the same category as sports — they are allowed in person, provided teachers and participants follow the guidelines.

The California Interscholastic Federation last month pushed all fall high school sports back until several months in response to the continuing pandemic. The earliest any school’s organized pre-season training would begin under CIF guidelines is December.

The new guidance from public health officials also says that activities should take place outside whenever possible. It does not ban indoor workouts, but if gyms and fitness centers are shuttered due to county regulations, they cannot open for youth sports under the new state guidelines. Those in counties that are allowing indoor gyms to operate must train within county guidelines for physical distancing, face coverings and occupancy. The state release also notes that indoor activity should be limited to exercise that can be done with a mask on, and any drills or actions that induce heavy breathing should be confined to outdoor training.

Teams are able to gather for pre-season conditioning, provided they do so outdoors or within the guidelines. The state’s guidance specifically notes skill-building exercises like running drills and body-weight exercises as permissible — activities such as team sports scrimmages or any other action that would bring participants within close contact is not allowed.

The release from the state specifically highlights competitions and tournaments as high-risk events because students, parents and coaches from different cities or counties come into contact with one another.

Adult team sports are still not allowed in California, the new guidelines state, except in the case of professional teams.

The state’s release did not make clear whether its decision was based on data that suggest younger children may not be as susceptible to the virus as teens and adults.

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Author: Michael Nowels

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