ERIE COUNTY, N.Y. — The Erie County Department of Health announced Monday that higher risk and moderate risk sports can now proceed in Erie County.
Both the Erie County Department of Health and its office of epidemiology say they have reviewed the interim guidance for sports and recreation, which was issued by New York State on Friday.
Under the state's guidance, non-professional and non-collegiate sports such as wrestling, ice hockey, basketball, lacrosse and volleyball were given the approval to proceed with training, competitions and tournaments.
After consulting with the New York State Association of County Health Officials, the Erie County Department of Health says higher risk and moderate risk sports can proceed under specific conditions and recommendations.
Under these guidelines, each team will be responsible for screening all athletes and coaches for COVID-19 symptoms for every team event. This includes practice, scrimmage and tournaments.
According to the county health department, for both moderate and higher risk sports, all in-person team or group activities such as practices, scrimmages, games, and/or meetings must be cancelled for a 10 day period if an athlete or coach tests positive for COVID-19. Also, if this situation occurs, contact tracing will be conducted (as it is for all positive COVID-19 cases in the county) and close contacts will be placed in quarantine.
Anyone who tests positive for COVID-19 or were exposed to a COVID-19 case are not allowed to participate in the sport or join spectators.
Meanwhile, spectors will be limited to two people per player. The county health department adds that indoor sports facilities are limited to allow 50 percent capacity.
The Erie County Department of Health gives its permission for sports and activities in Erie County's Orange Zone to travel for games or other related activities within the Western New York region and the Finger Lakes region. Similarly, teams from other counties within Western New York and the Finger Lakes can travel to Erie County to participate in such activities.
According to the county health department, permission to travel for games and activities will be periodically reviewed to "consider regional and county-level rates of transmission and other epidemiological data."
The department of health strongly discourages travel for games and competitions outside of Western New York and the Finger Lakes. And the Erie County Department of Health is reminding residents that current New York State travel advisory guidelines for quarantine will apply to athletes, coaches and family members who choose to travel out of New York State.
In addition to these guidelines, athletes are required to wear appropriate cloth face coverings and/or masks when not playing or practicing. Children under the age of 18-years-old can wear a mask when playing or practicing at their parent's direction.
The use of locker rooms is strongly discouraged; however, if they are used, they must be properly cleaned and disinfected per New York State guidelines.
The Erie County Department of Health adds, "All other requirements outlined in the January 2021 update to the Interim Guidance for Sports and Recreation must be followed by sports teams, recreation activities, and facilities where games and practices are held. League staff, school athletic directors, sports facility directors, coaches and parents are strongly encouraged to review this guidance and take steps to make sure current team and league operations align with this updated guidance."
Any coaching staff and recreation officials with questions about this is can contact the Erie County Department of Health's Division of Environmental Health at (716) 961-6800.