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Saturday December 5, 2020
Whitmer Orders Masks During High School Sports

LANSING---Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed an executive order Wednesday that requires high school athletes to wear masks at all times, even while on the field or court of play. The only exception is swimming. Upper Peninsula high school volleyball and soccer teams had been playing the last couple of weeks with masks on the sidelines, but not while in competition.

WHITMER'S EXECUTIVE ORDER:

Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed Executive Order 2020-180 Wednesday clarifying the rules on face coverings for organized sports during training, practice, and competition.

“The COVID-19 virus is easily spread through airborne particles and can affect everyone differently. By wearing a face covering when proper distancing is not possible, athletes will be better protected from contracting the virus and spreading it to family members, frontline workers, and vulnerable populations,” said Governor Whitmer. “We cannot afford to let our guard down. As we continue to fight this virus, we need to make smart and informed choices so we can beat COVID-19 together.”

Executive Order 2020-180 specifies that a face covering must be worn at all times by athletes training for, practicing for, or competing in an organized sport when the athlete cannot maintain 6 feet of social distance, except for occasional and fleeting moments.

Athletes are not required to wear a face covering if they are swimming. Athletes competing in football, soccer, or volleyball, for example, are not able to maintain 6 feet of social distance as required and therefore would need to wear a facial covering.

“We are not out of the woods yet, and COVID-19 is still a persistent threat to our frontline workers, students, and families,” said Chief Medical Executive and MDHHS Chief Deputy for Health Dr. Joneigh Khaldun. “Individuals have a choice about whether or not to play organized sports. Since contact sports pose a high risk of transmitting COVID-19, MDHHS recommends that people should choose to avoid them.

For those who do choose to play organized sports, we expect you to follow these strict safety measures and wear a face covering to reduce your risk and protect the health of your teammates, coaches, officials, and loved ones.”

Last week, the governor signed Executive Order 2020-176 reopening Michigan’s gyms and pools in those regions where they remain closed and allowing for organized sports practices and competitions to resume in those regions where they remain restricted, subject to strict protections meant to limit spread of the virus.

The governor also signed Executive Order 2020-175 outlining strict workplace safety measures gyms and pools must follow to protect people from the spread of COVID-19.

Additionally, The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) released guidance on organized sports recommending against contact sports at this time. It also cites the elevated risk associated with activities that involve “shouting, singing, or breathing forcefully,” and notes there have been 30 reported outbreaks associated with athletic clubs, teams, or athletic facilities.

MDHHS’ guidance recommends mitigation measures organized sports teams may take to reduce the spread of COVID-19 during training, practices, and competitions. These recommendations include frequent hand washing, not letting players share towels, clothing, or other items they use to wipe their faces or hands, ensuring proper cleaning and disinfection of objects and equipment, prioritizing outdoor practice, and more.


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