Gov. Inslee clears way for return of professional sports in Washington
Gov. Jay Inslee announced this week that as of June 5, professional sports can resume in Washington, provided certain benchmarks are met.
The governor set a handful of conditions for organizations and teams that wish to resume play. That includes:
- Following agreed-upon “league-wide and team-specific ‘return to play’ safety plans”
- Having that league-wide plan approved by either the player’s union or the association representing players
- Reporting the target date for resuming practice and play to respective county health departments
- Keeping games spectator free
Provided they meet these guidelines, teams will be allowed to resume play regardless of the reopening phase their respective counties are in. Back-office operations of up to 50 people will also be allowed, “unless a county’s then-current phase permits a greater number of people.”
Outdoor youth and adult recreational sports are still be subject to phased reopening requirements. In Phase 2, recreational and youth teams can resume practicing, “if players are limited to groups of five in separate parts of the field, separated by a buffer zone,” and if social distancing of at least five feet between players with no contact can be maintained.
Each recreational and youth league and/or organization must also publish their own “return to play” safety roadmap. Parents and household members will not be permitted to congregate on the sidelines during practice.
In Phase 3, rec and youth leagues can resume playing games, providing the gathering does not exceed 50 people. For complexes with multiple playing surfaces, that 50-person limit applies per field.
Sports facilities currently closed over COVID-19 concerns are also under no obligation to reopen despite all this, and can do so at their own discretion.
This comes as many professional sports leagues have been in negotiations with players over the safest way to resume play. NBA owners recently approved a plan to resume the season in Orlando on July 31 with the 22 teams left in playoff contention.
MLB players “resoundingly rejected” the latest offer from the league, which included a shorter season and sizable salary cuts.
NFL league officials have expressed optimism that the season will proceed as planned, possibly without fans in stadiums. It also recently hinted that training camps will have to be held at team facilities this summer, rather than off-site locations some teams have used in recent years.