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Niagara County gives greenlight for moderate, high risk sports to proceed

Niagara County Public Health Director Daniel J. Stapleton says moderate and high risk sports can proceed in accordance with New York State guidelines.

NIAGARA COUNTY, N.Y. — Moderate and high risk sports have officially been given the greenlight to proceed in Niagara County.

Niagara County Public Health Director Daniel J. Stapleton made the announcement Wednesday that moderate and high risk sports can proceed in accordance with New York State guidelines. 

This announcement comes after New York State released new guidance for sports and recreation on Friday, giving the approval for higher risk sports to resume on February 1. Under the new guidance, non-professional and non-collegiate sports such as wrestling, ice hockey, basketball, contact lacrosse and volleyball are allowed to proceed with training, competitions and tournaments. 

“Since the governor’s announcement on Friday, I have been in contact with my colleagues in the other Western New York counties, school superintendents, athletic directors, parents, state health department officials, Section VI officials and so many more to make sure everyone had a clear understanding of the guidelines and what to expect should we move forward with these sports,” Stapleton said. “Based on those discussions, I am confident everyone understands the risks involved and the steps that need to be taken to mitigate that risk.  And with that, I am giving approval for these sports to move forward.”

Stapleton stresses that schools, businesses, leagues and organizations all must follow the New York State Department of Health's interim guidance for sports and recreation during the COVID-19 public health emergency, as well as any applicable executive orders.

Per New York State guidance, any indoor facilities are required to limit capacity to no more than 50 percent occupancy, and a maximum of two spectators per player. Protocols must be put in place to ensure social distancing and use of face coverings. Enhanced disinfection protocols are also required.

If an athlete, coach or referee tests positive for COVID-19 all in-person team or group activities such as practices, scrimmages, games and meetings will likely be suspended for 10 days to "mitigate the spread of infection." However, the health department says situations will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

In a press release the county health department said in part, "The level of risk presented by a return to sports is driven by the sport and setting, local disease activity, and individual circumstances including underlying health conditions that may place the athlete or household contacts at increased risk of severe disease should they contract COVID-19. Individual schools and businesses, student and adult athletes, and parents/guardians must carefully consider a variety of factors before making an individual decision to participate."