COLUMBUS — Spectator access will be limited and facial coverings will be mandatory throughout athletic venues according to the latest order issued by the Ohio Department of Health.
Effective at 11:59 p.m. Wednesday, the 12-page order — signed by Interim Health Director Lance D. Himes — spells out in great detail what players, coaches, trainers, officials, staff, and spectators must do in order for fall sports to be contested in Ohio at all levels.
The maximum number of individuals allowed in any outdoor sports venue is the lesser of 1,500 or 15 percent of fixed seating capacity. Indoor facilities will be limited to the lesser of 300 or 15 percent of fixed seating capacity.
Physical separation must be maintained throughout the venue and seating must be arranged and assigned to allow for six feet of space between groups of no more than four spectators or members of one household.
The order also recommends instituting arrival times, blocking off unused seats and the front and last rows of the venue if possible. Schools can request a variance from capacity requirements through the local health department and the Ohio Department of Health.
Coaches, trainers, volunteers, and officials must wear face coverings at all times and players must wear them when not on the field or court of play, unless one of the state-accepted exclusions applies.
During games and practices coaches and officials using whistles are not required to wear a facial covering.
The state’s order also requires players, coaches, trainers, and officials to “strictly follow Ohio’s face coverings Order when out in public to reduce the risk of contracting COVID-19 and potentially spreading it during Sports activities.”
Other highlights of the order include:
— Players, coaches, trainers, and officials must conduct daily symptom assessments before each practice or game.
— Participants are not to physically contact each other before or after practice or pregame and competitive play (greetings, team huddles, high-fives, congregating, etc.).
— Time must be allotted between practice sessions to allow teams to exit the fields and facilities prior to new teams arriving for proper sanitation of shared spaces and high-touch surfaces.
— Anyone testing positive for COVID-19, whether symptomatic or asymptomatic, can not return to sports activities until a documented medical exam is performed clearing the individual.
— Cross country races are limited to a total of 150 per race (smaller numbers are encouraged) and spectators are to comply with social distancing, including at the finish line.
— Spectators must wear a cloth face covering at all times unless exempt under state orders.
— Concessions must follow Responsible RestartOhio guidance for bars and restaurants.
The order also mandates that sports and sports participants “shall also comply with any additional health rules for the prevention of COVID-19 from their governing authorities.” In the event of a conflict between the state’s order and the governing authority rules, compliance shall be based on what the most restrictive is.
The order may be enforced by state and local law enforcement to the extent set forth in Ohio law. According to state law, violating the order is a second-degree misdemeanor, punishable by a fine up to $750 and/or jail time up to 90 days.