Allegheny County, WPIAL clarify restrictions on outdoor gatherings of 50 people for youth and high school sports

Allegheny Co. Health Dept.: Restrictions on outdoor gatherings apply to youth & high school sports

PITTSBURGH — Allegheny County and the Western Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic League are working together to meet the county’s guidelines for outdoor gatherings, which limits the number of people to 50.

That does apply to youth and K-12 sports-related activities.

This is the guidance coming from both when it comes to outdoor sporting activities in Allegheny County:

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  • Spectators are prohibited from attending in-person K-12 sports-related activities.
  • Personal health assessments are expected of each participant on the day of any game.
  • Physical distancing of 6′ is required at all times when not actively engaged in competition.
  • Coaches and staff should be masked at all times unless they meet one of the exceptions in the state’s universal face coverings order.
  • Participants may not share uniforms, towels, apparel or equipment, and are expected to bring their own water bottle or rehydration beverages.

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While the limit on outdoor gatherings remains in place, the health department is now working with WPIAL to be able to play games using the protocols that WPIAL and the PIAA incorporated into their school health and safety plans. Those plans were approved by the state.

The Allegheny County Health Department is taking it one step further, working with the WPIAL to add these additional guidelines for interscholastic athletic events in the county that will also comply with the current guidelines.

  • Events must be hosted at a facility where regulation can occur.
  • An administrator and/or designee must be present to monitor gatherings and ensure compliance.
  • Teams and/or pods must not exceed the gathering size of 50 people in a close proximity to each other (such as an individual sideline, on the competition area during a contest, or in a section of the bleachers).
  • While on the sidelines and not engaged in competition, coaches, athletes and staff should have a face covering and keep 6′ of distance between each other.
  • Athletes and coaches should comply with their school’s Health and Safety Plans with regard to health screenings prior to practice and competition.
  • Events should be limited to the time necessary for appropriate warm-up and competition. Schools should avoid arriving at a facility well in advance of the starting time and should leave as soon as possible after the completion of the competition. There shall be no congregating in groups after the event.
  • The total facility capacity may not exceed the state mandate of 250 individuals.

Read the full statement from the Allegheny County Health Department below:

“The Health Department’s limit on outdoor gatherings of 50 remains in place and applies to sports. It is intended to limit the spread of COVID-19 in our community. That is particularly true for groups of youth who are often asymptomatic while having the virus and may not realize that they are spreading it.

With that being said, the guidance set forth by the Western Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic League (WPIAL) and the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association, Inc. (PIAA) includes extensive protocols that were incorporated into school Health & Safety Plans reviewed and approved by the state.

The Allegheny County Health Department is looking at those protocols and will work with WPIAL to ensure safe events in the county meet COVID guidelines while also allowing sporting events to occur with appropriate measures in place. We hope to have additional information to share tomorrow.”

Pine-Richland High School’s football coach said if that rule stands, they won’t be able to play a home football game. Their roster alone is 78 players.

Now, teams in Allegheny County are scrambling to find a back-up plan for games. Surrounding counties can allow outdoor gatherings of 250 people under state orders, which coaches said is doable when factoring in both teams, trainers, referees and administration.

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