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Some games allowed: St. Louis County updates youth sports guidelines

The biggest changes affect younger athletes and participants in sports that don't involve a lot of contact between players

ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. — St. Louis County is loosening some restrictions on youth sports, allowing competitions and games to be played in some circumstances.

The biggest changes affect younger children and sports that don’t involve a lot of contact between players.

County Executive Sam Page said the current data supports more participation in some sports for young athletes. He said the recommendations fall in line with the St. Louis Sports Medicine COVID-19 Task Force and the State of Illinois.

The changes go into effect this Friday, Sept. 11. You can read the full guidelines on the St. Louis County coronavirus website.

READ ALSO: St. Louis County adjusting recommendations on in-person learning for some students

St. Louis County previously categorized sports by high contact and low contact. The new guidelines announced Wednesday now include moderate contact. Athletes 13 and younger participating in moderate- and low-contact sports will be allowed to play in games and competitions.

Moderate-contact sports guidelines:

Moderate-contact sports include: baseball, cheerleading, crew/rowing, dance team, fencing, floor hockey, field hockey, racquetball, soccer, softball, team handball, ultimate frisbee and volleyball.

For athletes 13 and younger, full team practices will be allowed with no limit on the number of participants and coaches. Games and competitions with other teams in the region can resume, but tournaments are still banned. Spectators are still not allowed to watch from the sidelines.

For athletes 14 and older, team workouts are allowed, along with full team practices with no limit on the number of players and coaches. However, games, tournaments, competitions and showcases are still not permitted. Spectators also are banned.

All participants and coaches must continue to practice social distancing as much as possible during practice and games. Athletes must wear a face mask or covering whenever they’re not doing vigorous physical activity, and coaches must wear one at all times.

St. Louis County Executive Sam Page explained the health department continues to see a rise in COVID-19 cases involving teens 15 and older, "who are currently having a rate of COVID transmission that is not acceptable. It puts them at risk and it puts their families at risk," Page explained.

Low-contact sports guidelines:

Low-contact sports mostly involve individual sports, including: diving, gymnastics, bicycling, field events (high jump, pole vault, javelin, shot-put), golf, weight lifting, bodybuilding, bowling, running, swimming, tennis and track.

Full team practices will be allowed with some restrictions. Competitions also will be permitted with other teams or individuals in the region. Tournament-style competitions are still off-limits and spectators are not allowed.

Social distancing must continue to be practiced as much as possible. Athletes need to wear masks when they’re not doing vigorous physical activity and coaches must wear a covering at all times.

High-contact sports guidelines:

St. Louis County also loosened restrictions on high-contact sports. However, games are still banned at this time.

High-contact sports include: basketball, boxing, ice hockey tackle/flag/touch football, lacrosse, martial arts, rugby, water polo and wrestling.

Team workouts and practices are allowed. Practices and team contact drills can have up to 30 athletes. Intra-squad scrimmages also are allowed with 30 or fewer participants. Two coaches can be with the athletes. Practice groups must remain the same every day to limit exposure, the county said.

Spectators still aren’t allowed. Athletes must continue to practice social distancing whenever possible. Face coverings are required when athletes aren’t doing vigorous activity and coaches must wear them at all times.

St. Louis region:

When games are allowed, competitions are limited to games involving teams in the St. Louis region. The county defined that as including the Metro East, City of St. Louis, St. Louis County, St. Charles County, Jefferson County and Franklin County.