Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf and Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine on Wednesday provided the first specific guidance for the return of sports in Pennsylvania — both at the professional and youth levels.
The guidance comes as counties across the state, including Cameron, Elk, McKean and Potter, move into the green phase beginning on Friday.
While there had been questions as to whether organized sports would be allowed in those counties, and to what extent, the Wolf Administration said that they indeed would be permitted and those sports allowed to resume are “defined as physical activity directed by adult or youth leaders that involves rules and formal practice and competition.”
This includes school and club sports as well as youth and adult formal activities, and while it didn’t encourage or discourage specific sports, activities and games with little or no physical contact are recommended.
The guidelines did not list any requirements for spectators, but the Department of Health said in a later release that gatherings of more than 250 individuals are prohibited.
The PIAA didn’t immediately have a comment as to what Wolf’s announcement meant for the resumption of high school athletics. Previously, the organization had been firm that no organized team workouts or practices would be permitted until at least July 1, but the board voted unanimously last week to give PIAA Executive Director Bob Lombardi authority to move that date forward, once the governor approved. The PIAA board decided to let schools resume offseason workouts in a county-by-county approach rather than force all schools to wait for a common restart date.
Similar to bordering states such as New York and Ohio, Gov. Wolf also issued some guidance to professional sports leagues that are hoping to resume games and practices in Pennsylvania.
Those leagues are allowed to begin activities in yellow and green counties without on-site spectators and only if the teams and leagues have developed a COVID-19 safety plan.
That plan must be approved by the Pennsylvania Department of Health and include “among other requirements, testing and screening and monitoring of all on-venue players and personnel.”
That bit of information is good news for teams like the Pittsburgh Steelers, which have been waiting for the state’s approval to begin planning for training camp practices later this summer, and the Pittsburgh Pirates, which can now plan to host games at PNC Park without fans.