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Press Releases - County Council

Council approves new Board of Health regulation which updates sports guidance and helps prevent the spread of COVID-19

For Immediate Release: Friday, March 19, 2021

Rockville, Md., March 19, 2021—The Council, sitting as the Board of Health, unanimously approved an updated Board of Health regulation to provide new guidance for sports while also preventing the spread of COVID-19 in Montgomery County.  The Board of Health regulation took effect at 5 p.m. today.

The goal of this updated guidance is to allow young people to play competitive sports, while taking the proper public health precautions so they can do so safely. The new Board of Health regulation removes the risk classifications for different sports while maintaining public health measures.

Instead of evaluating different sports by risk category, all organized sports played indoors or outdoors must obtain a COVID Protocol Plan approved by the Health Officer or a designee. Each plan must include the following:

  • a contact tracing component with an attendance tracking sheet that must be completed for all activities;
  • a requirement that face coverings are worn as provided by the American Academy of Pediatrics;
  • a commitment to maintain social distancing of at least six feet between all participants to the extent possible; and
  • a requirement for the use of a student attestation form or a COVID-19 athlete or coach monitoring form at all activities.

Further, an organized sports league that was approved to operate under a prior Board of Health regulation, and wasn't previously classified as high risk, does not need to develop a new COVID Protocol Plan for any event that complies with gathering limits and restrictions.

Sports played outside of an organized league are permitted with a maximum of 50 people for outdoor sports and a maximum of 25 people for indoor sports. Face coverings must be worn whenever social distancing is not possible.

Councilmembers made the following comments on the new Board of Health regulation:

“We know the benefits sports have on the physical and emotional well-being of our youth,” said Councilmember Craig Rice, who chairs the Education and Culture Committee. “This amendment will allow for equitable access in participating in all sports, while utilizing the best practices available to us to help mitigate the risks involved.”

“Our student athletes made their voice heard and we have responded,” said Councilmember Hans Riemer, who chairs the Planning, Housing and Economic Development Committee. “This is an important step toward a post-COVID world, but now we need our young people to step up, follow the protocols and help keep their peers and families safe as we move forward. Go team MoCo!”

“This regulation provides a strong path forward for youth sports, while ensuring the utmost safety protocols are in place,” Council President Tom Hucker said. “We continue to take a balanced approach, guided by the best public health guidance, to keep our young students, athletes, coaches and families safe and healthy. The Board of Health will continue to monitor Covid-19 and reassess measures on an ongoing basis.”

“I believe this order strikes a reasonable balance that considers health concerns and the benefits of youth being able to participate in sports,” Council Vice President Gabe Albornoz said. “We will continue to evaluate the data and adjust on a weekly basis as necessary.” 

“I am pleased to support this resolution, which was passed unanimously by the Montgomery County Council,” said Councilmember Sidney Katz, who chairs the Public Safety Committee. “We continue to make informed decisions which are responsive to both the requests we receive from the community as well as the need to keep everyone healthy and safe. As was stated earlier today, we will continue to make changes to our regulations as our situation improves.”

“I want to thank the youth, parents and coaches who reached out to us and took the time to share their comments leading up to today’s vote,” said Councilmember Nancy Navarro who chairs the Government Operations and Fiscal Policy Committee. “We understand the mental health and wellness benefits of playing sports. While this journey has not been easy for anyone, I am cautiously optimistic about the direction that our County is headed and appreciate that this Board of Health regulation includes the necessary public health measures such as a contact tracing component, face coverings, social distancing and student attestation forms, as we seek the right balance between playing competitive sports and the safety of our community at large.”

“Youth sports can be played safely with the proper precautions in place and are important to young people’s development and well-being,” said Councilmember Friedson. “It’s critical that all who participate continue to take extra care so we can get back to some sense of normalcy while beating this pandemic.”

“As a former high school and college athlete, I know just how important sports are for providing life skills, mentorship and social emotional support for young people,” said Councilmember Will Jawando. “I am glad we are taking steps to bring back even more youth sports, including football, in a safe and responsible way. It’s important that all student-athletes wear their masks, maintain social distancing when possible and follow all other health guidelines.”

“This has been a tough year, and our youth have lost so much—they have lost time in the classroom, lost the ability to play sports and some have even lost family members,” said Councilmember Evan Glass. “As our health metrics continue to improve and more students return to school, this updated health regulation provides a way for them to get the physical and mental exercise they need while balancing health and safety.”

The new Board of Health regulation and the Council staff report can be viewed here.



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Release ID: 21-115
Media Contact: Sonya Healy, 240-777-7926 , Juan Jovel 240-777-7931