Young athletes could be required to wear masks, even during practices and games, according to guidance from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.
According to the document that was released Friday, youth sports teams — including school teams — must adhere to indoor masking requirements, regardless of vaccination status.
“Youth sports participants must wear a face mask even while engaging in physical activity in any indoor setting,” the document said.
Exceptions will be made for indoor water sports like diving, water polo and swimming, but only for athletes while they are in the water.
“Face masks must be worn when participants are not in the water,” the document said.
For outdoor sports, masks are “recommended in crowded spaces,” which includes spectators when social distancing is not possible, the document said.
Masks are also required for all spectators at large-scale sporting events of more than 10,000 people, county officials announced Thursday.
In addition, routine testing will be required for all players and staff members involved with moderate- or high-risk sports, which public health identifies as many team sports, including football, basketball, baseball and softball, soccer and water polo, among others.
Athletes and staff in the high- and moderate-risk sports must be tested weekly, though twice per week is recommended for unvaccinated people.
The testing must happen within 48 hours of any game or match, and the results must be available before the competition begins.
The guidelines also strongly encourage vaccinations for everyone age 12 and up, as the shots help protect the community by reducing transmission of the virus between people and lowering the chance of severe illness or death in those who are infected.
“It will also decrease disruption in team activities, because fully vaccinated individuals are not required to quarantine if they are close contacts to a case of COVID-19, as long as they remain asymptomatic and
continue to test negative,” the document said.