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SACRAMENTO December 14, 2020 – The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) today released updated guidance for youth and recreational adult sports. The guidance applies to all organized youth and adult sports, including school and community-sponsored programs, and privately-organized clubs and leagues. CDPH’s guidance is aimed at giving communities guidelines on how to safely remain physically active while reducing transmission in their communities, especially at a time when cases are at an all-time high and ICU capacity is stretched near capacity. These guidelines were developed in consultation with a wide range of stakeholders, including the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) and the California Association of Recreation and Park Districts (CARPD).

“Despite how hard it has been to do this for so many months, it’s imperative now more than ever that we all follow public health guidance by staying home and not mixing with other households,” said Dr. Erica Pan, Acting State Public Health Officer. “I know as a parent and athlete myself, how important exercise is to maintain physical and mental health, and we encourage members of the same household to do physical activities together and outdoors until the current and alarming surge passes. We need everyone to take seriously their responsibility to protect their entire community, and in the meantime, we all can look forward to these activities we can resume in 2021.”

Outdoor physical conditioning, practice, skill-building and training that can be done maintaining 6 feet of physical distance is permitted in all counties, including those under the Regional Stay at Home Order. The public is strongly encouraged to limit these outdoor activities to a single household while a county is under the Regional Stay at Home Order.

For counties not under the Regional Stay at Home Order, the Blueprint for a Safer Economy has been updated to allow sports to resume in tiers corresponding to the sport’s level of contact and transmission risk, and the level of community spread in the associated tier. 

Competition will not be allowed in California until January 25, 2021, at the earliest. Competitions are not permitted as they increase the probability of transmission due to mixing of households, traveling, and unavoidable physical contact. Competitions between different teams have been associated with multiple outbreaks in California and across the country. This date will be reassessed by January 4, 2021, based on California disease transmission trends and is subject to change at any time given the level of COVID-19 and ICU capacity in California.

Youth and adult sports include varied activities that have different levels of risk for transmission of COVID-19 depending on the physical contact between players. Outdoor activities that allow for consistent wearing of face coverings and physical distancing are at lower risk than indoor activities that involve close contact between participants and high exertion that increases spread of exhaled particles. Youth and adult sports are classified below by their level of contact and transmission risk. This classification applies to competition training/practice with others. It does not apply to individual conditioning or exercise.

The following chart explains which category of sports are allowed in each Tier:

Widespread TierSubstantial TierModerate TierMinimal Tier
Outdoor low-contact sports Archery
Badminton
Biking Bocce
Corn hole
Cross country
Dance (no contact)
Disc golf
Golf
Ice and roller skating (no contact)
Lawn bowling
Martial arts (no contact) Physical training programs (e.g., yoga, Zumba, Tai chi)
Pickleball (singles)
Rowing/crew (with 1 person)
Running
Shuffleboard
Skeet shooting
Skiing and snowboarding
Snowshoeing
Swimming and diving
Tennis
Track and field
Walking and hiking
Outdoor moderate-contact sports Baseball
Cheerleading
Dodgeball
Field hockey
Gymnastics
Kickball
Lacrosse (girls/women)
Pickleball (doubles)
Softball
Outdoor high-contact sports Basketball
Football
Ice hockey
Lacrosse (boys/men)
Rugby
Rowing/crew (with 2 or more people)
Soccer
Volleyball
Water polo  
Indoor low-contact sports
Badminton
Curling
Dance (no contact)
Gymnastics
Ice skating (individual)
Physical training
Pickleball (singles)
Swimming and diving
Tennis
Track and field
Volleyball
Indoor moderate-contact sports
Cheerleading
Dance (intermittent contact)
Dodgeball
Kickball
Pickleball (doubles)
Racquetball
Squash  
Indoor high-contact sports
Basketball
Boxing
Ice hockey
Ice skating (pairs)
Martial arts
Roller derby
Soccer
Water polo
Wrestling

Participants in youth and adult sports, coaches and support staff must follow steps outlined in the guidance to reduce risk of COVID-19 transmission. 

Local health officers may implement more stringent rules tailored to local conditions and should be consulted to confirm if there are any local stricter variations.

For more information and resources on what individuals can do to prevent the spread of COVID-19, visit covid19.ca.gov