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SACRAMENTO February 19, 2021 – 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. Under the updated guidance, outdoor high-contact and moderate-contact sport competitions may resume in the Red (Substantial) tier and the Purple (Widespread) tier, with modifications, including testing requirements for certain outdoor high contact sports.
“Youth sports are important to our children’s physical and mental health, and our public health approach has worked to balance those benefits against COVID-19 risks,” said Dr. Tomás Aragón, CDPH Director and State Public Health Officer. “With case rates and hospitalizations declining across California, we are allowing outdoor competition to resume, with modifications and steps to reduce risk, in counties where case rates are lower.”
Under the updated guidance, outdoor high-contact sports can be played in counties in the Purple or Red tier with a case rate at or below 14 per 100,000. Weekly testing will be required for football, rugby and water polo participants age 13 and over in counties with a case rate between 7 and 14 per 100,000. Weekly testing, either antigen or PCR, is required for all participants and coaches in these sports, with results made available within 24 hours of competition. Football, rugby and water polo are high-contact sports that are likely to be played unmasked, with close, face-to-face contact exceeding 15 minutes.
Outdoor moderate-contact sports, such as baseball, cheerleading and softball, can be played in these counties without the testing requirement.
Due to the nature and risk of transmission while participating in these sports, teams must provide information regarding risk to all parents/guardians of minors participating, and each parent shall sign an informed consent indicating their understanding and acknowledgement of the risks.
Any teams playing in a less restrictive sports tier are strongly encouraged to follow the steps outlined in the guidance to reduce risk of COVID-19 transmission. This includes wearing face coverings, practicing physical distancing, and appropriate hand hygiene and equipment sanitation.
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 lower risk than indoor activities that involve close contact between participants and high exertion that increases spread of exhaled particles.
For more information on examples of sports with different levels of contact and risk by tier view the updated guidance.
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 www.covid19.ca.gov.
Table: Youth and Adult Recreational Sports* Permitted by Current Tier of County
|Widespread Tier (Purple)1||Substantial Tier (Red) 2||Moderate Tier (Orange) 3||Minimal Tier (Yellow) 4|
|Outdoor low-contact sports|
Dance (no contact)
Equestrian events (including rodeos) that involve only a single rider at a time
Ice and roller skating (no contact)
Martial arts (no contact)
Physical training programs (e.g., yoga, Zumba, Tai chi)
Rowing/crew (with 1 person)
Skiing and snowboarding
Swimming and diving
Track and field
Walking and hiking
|Outdoor moderate-contact sports|
|Outdoor high-contact sports|
Rowing/crew (with 2 or more people)
Indoor low-contact sports
Dance (no contact)
Ice skating (individual)
Swimming and diving
Track and field
|Indoor moderate-contact sports|
Dance (intermittent contact)
Indoor high-contact sports
Ice skating (pairs)
Play in Less Restrictive Tiers: Outdoor High-Contact Sports
Outdoor high-contact sports (orange tier) can be played in the purple or red tier with an adjusted case rate equal to or less than 14 per 100,000 under the following conditions:
Implement and strictly adhere to the following additional general guidance:
- Informed Consent
- Testing – antigen or PCR (regular and postseason antigen or PCR testing of sports participants and coaches weekly. If competing, testing performed with test results made available within 24 hours of play)
Note: The testing requirement above shall only apply in the following situations:
- For football, rugby and water polo as these are high contact sports that are likely to be played unmasked, with close, face to face contact exceeding 15 minutes.
- When adjusted case rates for the county are between 14-7 per 100,000.
- For sport participants 13 years of age or above as evidence shows that younger children do not seem to be major sources of transmission—either to each other or to adults.
- *If more than 50% of a team’s participants are less than the age of 13 (and are not required to test per the above), then the entire team is exempted from the testing requirement. Coaches, however, will still be required to meet the testing requirement.
Additional general guidance that should be implemented to the greatest extent possible and are strongly encouraged
- Face Coverings (during play)
- Physical Distancing (during play)
- Testing – antigen or PCR
- Hygiene and Sanitation
- Limitations on mixing by participants
- Travel Considerations