Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson announced that youth sports, including swimming, can return in the state beginning June 1 – though with many safety restrictions still in place.
Arkansas had already reopened pools at 50% capacity as of May 22. But the new announcement lifts public gathering restrictions for “community based and school sponsored team sports.” KAIT8 reports that the announcement covers high schools and youth sports. But the wording of the actual announcement itself specifically notes that intercollegiate athletic team sports are not included.
The announcement breaks sports into two categories:
- Close-contact team sports (individual practice permitted; team practice/competition prohibited). This includes basketball, wrestling, football, cheerleading, dance, volleyball, soccer and martial arts.
- Limited-contact team sports (practice and competition permitted under certain restrictions). This includes swimming, along with baseball, golf, track, tennis and others.
The state will require a number of specific restrictions for sports teams resuming practice. Chief among them is that coaches must always wear a face covering at all times. Athletes must wear face coverings except when they’re actively participating in the sports activity. Here are a few of the key restrictions:
- Coaches and staff (including lifeguards) must wear a face covering at all times
- Athletes must wear a face covering when they’re not actively participating in the sport
- 6-foot social distancing for all involved
- Pre-activity screening of coaches & athletes to ask about recent symptoms
- Coaches and staff must have their temperature checked by digital thermometer before the activity, and no one with a temperature greater than 100.4ºF can participate.
Arkansas has had 6,029 COVID-19 cases and 117 deaths, per the state’s website. That’s about 2,000 new cases in the past two weeks, since the state’s decision to start reopening pools at 50% capacity.