New Hampshire youth and amateur sports can resume practice immediately with restrictions, Gov. Chris Sununu announced on Friday.
Those practices must be non-contact, held outdoors and limited to groups of 10 including coaches, according to state guidelines.
Athletes, spectators and staff will have to maintain six feet of social distance and wear masks when social distancing is not possible.
That means scrimmages are out, skills training is in.
“It may require more practices with less amounts of kids,” Sununu said. “We want to allow [youth and amateur sports] to move forward in a safe and reasonable manner.”
State guidelines also prohibit athletes from sharing equipment or water bottles; congregating in locker rooms, dugouts or benches; and engaging in “mouth-based activities” such as spitting, chewing gum, licking fingers and chewing/spitting sunflower seeds.
Staff and athletes must be screened before each practice for symptoms or contact with confirmed cases, and leagues and organizations should provide hand sanitizer.
It represents the first phase of re-opening youth and amateur athletics.
For some, it means the chance to play ball.
The Great North Woods Cal Ripken Baseball and Lou Leaver Softball Leagues, which have been on hold during the pandemic, could proceed with a modified season. League officials will render a decision soon, according to GNW secretary Leslie Houghton.
“As of right now we haven’t done anything. Everything is on hold until we have a meeting,” Houghton said.
The league serves the communities of Canan (Vt.), Colebrook, Groveton, Jefferson, Lancaster, Pittsburg, and Whitefield. Houghton knows at least one kid who’s ready to play.
“I can only speak for my kid and he is very anxious,” she said. “Today he was talking about how it was such a beautiful day for baseball and he was disappointed he wasn’t playing.”
The re-opening plan comes too late for others.
Multiple youth baseball and softball leagues in the North Country have already canceled their 2020 seasons, including the Littleton Babe Ruth Association and the White Mountain League (Bethlehem, Franconia, Lincoln, Lisbon).
TRAINING CLASSES GET GREEN LIGHT
Fitness centers can resume group classes, one-on-one training, and limited tennis and swimming practice on June 1.
It comes as good news for Kaze Dojo in Lancaster. For weeks, owner and instructor Greg Williams has conducted virtual group boxing and jiu jitsu classes with students over Facebook and Zoom.
“Everybody is itching to get back,” he said.
There are conditions.
Activities must be non-contact, meaning no pick-up basketball, mixed martial arts grappling, or ballroom dancing. Participants must observe social distance of eight to 10 feet for group classes and six feet for personal training, tennis and swimming. Tennis groups should be limited to four.
Staff and participants should be screened for COVID-19 symptoms or exposure prior to class, must use their own equipment and water bottles, should wear a mask when social distance cannot be observed, and should not congregated before or after class.
Extensive cleaning and sanitizing of equipment after each use, and adequate ventilation of facilities, is also required.
Gov. Sununu said the order applies to activities “where social distancing can be allowed and appropriately provided for.”
“The guidance does not allow for general use of gym equipment outside of a class setting. We are simply not there right now. Hopefully we get there in the next few weeks. We have to look at the data and make sure we’re not opening things up too fast. But this is a good first step to get fitness back up and running in some form.”