ST. PAUL -- As part of the state’s next phase in its coronavirus response, which begins June 10, gyms and fitness centers as well as pools and aquatic centers will be reopening soon with some restrictions, Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz and state officials announced at a Friday, June 5, press conference.
Also allowable? Sporting events, including youth sports practices.
“There are sports that you can play pretty easily six feet apart, even in a competition,” Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development Commissioner Steve Grove said Friday. “You can play a tennis match a pretty good distance away from somebody. You can compete in a race a good amount of distance away from somebody. Five-on-five basketball is a little tougher to play competitively in a game with social distancing. You’d be a pretty bad basketball player if you tried to stay six feet apart from the person you’re trying to defend.”
The state has established some sports as low-risk, like tennis and golf, where games and competitions will be possible, and others as high-risk, like basketball, where participants will be able to practice but game settings do not allow for social distancing.
Youth sports will be allowed to return with some restrictions. Guidance from the state says that within the youth sport programs, organizers should “create consistent pods of the same staff, volunteers and participants with a maximum number of 10 people in each pod.”
Practices are to be held outdoors as much as possible and parents and caregivers are to be reminded not to attend. If they must, proper social distancing measures must be maintained. Intermixing between “pods” is not allowed and players should not have contact.
The example given by the state for contactless practicing: Players may kick a soccer ball back and forth but training where contact might occur, like stealing a ball, is not recommended.
And as for when professional sports could return in the state, those conversations are still ongoing, Grove said. Major League Soccer will be heading to Orlando this summer, as will the National Basketball Association. The National Hockey League’s return-to-play plan is in the works, and Major League Baseball’s return is still up in the air.
“We continue to have conversation with the Twins (and) with our other teams in the state,” Grove said.