CHICAGO – Gov. J.B. Pritzker, on Wednesday, placed new restrictions on youth and recreational sports, ones that are expected to affect high schools across the state.
In the new guidelines, sports are placed into one of three categories based on the amount of contact between players: low, medium, and high, and four levels of allowable play.
There are also four levels:
- Level 1 -Non-contact practices and training only. No games or scrimmages.
- Level 2 – Intersquad scrimmages only with parental consent. No games.
- Level 3 – Conference and regional play is allowed. However, playoffs and championship games can be held for low-risk sports only.
- Level 4 – Return to regular play, including out-of-state games, playoffs, and championships.
The guidelines take effect Saturday, Aug. 15. Based on current public health conditions, low-risk sports can be played at levels 1, 2, and 3. Medium-risk sports can be played at levels 1 and 2, and high-risk sports can be played at level 1.
Sports in the low-risk category are tennis, baseball and golf. The medium-risk category includes basketball and soccer while football and hockey are considered high risk.
“I know our hearts break when we hear the word ‘restrictions,’ especially when it comes to our children’s love for their sports,” Pritzker said during a news conference. “Whether this year is their first time on the court or it’s their senior season – this isn’t the news anyone wants to hear. But with rising rates of spread of the virus, with rising positivity rates throughout Illinois and the United States, this is a situation where the toughest choice is also the safest one. We have worked in consultation with the governing bodies of many of these organized sports programs, and collectively we hope that, when metrics and risks improve measurably, we will be able to restart these sports.”
The new restrictions do not apply to collegiate or professional sports.
Meanwhile, as collegiate conferences across the country are pushing their fall schedules to next spring, the IHSA is expected to announce its plan for fall sports Wednesday.
As of this report, there have been 175,124 coronavirus cases in Illinois since March, including 7,462 deaths. There were 1,393 new cases, including 18 new fatalities announced Wednesday. Public health statistics include confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19.
The state is processing about 40,000 tests per day for a positivity rate of approximately 4%. As of Tuesday night, 1,491 people in Illinois were reported to be in the hospital with COVID-19. Of those, 355 patients were in the ICU and 152 were on ventilators.