Sports Safety Guidance

This guidance pertains to all youth and adult recreational sports, including, but not limited to, school-based sports (IHSA & IESA), travel clubs, private leagues and clubs, recreational leagues and centers, and park district sports programs. This guidance does NOT pertain to professional sports leagues or college division level sports.

These guidelines do not apply to adult sport activities subject to existing DCEO guidance identified below:

  • For golf, refer to existing guidance on the DCEO website.
  • For tennis, refer to existing guidance on the DCEO website.

This guidance will be regularly updated as public health conditions change and new information becomes available.

Higher Risk

  • Boxing
  • Competitive Cheer
  • Competitive Dance
  • Football
  • Hockey
  • Lacrosse
  • Martial Arts
  • Rugby
  • Ultimate Frisbee
  • Wrestling

Medium Risk

  • Basketball
  • Fencing
  • Flag Football or 7v7 Football
  • Paintball
  • Racquetball
  • Soccer
  • Volleyball
  • Water Polo
  • Wheelchair Basketball

Lower Risk

  • Archery
  • Badminton
  • Baseball *
  • Bass Fishing *
  • Bowling
  • Climbing
  • Crew
  • Cross Country*
  • Cycling *
  • Disc Golf
  • Golf
  • Gymnastics *
  • Horseback Riding
  • Ice Skating *
  • Ropes Courses *
  • Sailing, Canoeing, Kayaking *
  • Sideline Spirit *
  • Skateboarding
  • Softball *
  • Swimming/Diving *
  • Tennis
  • Track and Field *
  • Weight Lifting *

* With safety measures.
See full table for detailed guidance

All Sports Policy

The level of play allowed is dictated by current public health conditions.

Below are the Type of Play Levels:

Level 1

No-contact practices, and trainings only

Level 2

Intra-team scrimmages allowed, with parental consent for minors; no competitive play

Level 3

Intra-conference or Intra-EMS-region or intra-league play/meets only; state- or league-championship game/meet allowed for low-risk sports only

Level 4

Tournaments, out-of-conference/league play, out-of-state play allowed; championship games allowed

Current Conditions Allow for the Following Types of Play per Sport Risk Level:

  • Low-risk sports can currently play at Levels 1, 2, and 3
  • Medium-risk sports can currently play at Level 1 and 2
  • High-risk sports can currently play at Level 1

1 EMS Regions are the 11 regions IDPH uses for the Restore Illinois boundaries

The following sports are considered low risk IF the below mitigations are met.

Baseball

  • At least 6-feet apart in dugout areas, or players seated 6-feet apart in bleachers behind dugout, otherwise considered Medium

Bass Fishing

  • Limit number of individuals on boat to allow for social distancing, otherwise Medium

Cross Country

  • If number of teams is significantly limited and physical workspace guidelines followed

Cycling

  • Individual or use only every other track in velodrome, otherwise Medium

Gymnastics

  • If able to clean equipment between participants, otherwise Medium

Ice Skating

  • If singles only, otherwise Higher

Ropes Courses

  • If able to socially distance and clean between each individual, otherwise Higher

Sailing, Canoeing, Kayaking

  • If limited number on boat to socially distance, otherwise Higher

Sideline Spirit

  • If 6-feet apart and no stunts or lifts, otherwise Higher

Softball

  • If at least 6-feet apart in dugout areas, or players seated 6-feet apart in bleachers behind dugout, otherwise considered Medium

Swimming/Diving

  • If restricted to single lane and singles diving; no relays, synchronized swimming, or paired diving, otherwise Medium

Track and Field

  • Lower if delayed starts, every other track, and cleaning of equipment between usage; otherwise Medium

Weight Lifting

  • If able to clean between each individual, otherwise Medium

Uniform guidelines across businesses, industries, and nonprofits within the State of Illinois; the following two categories do not apply to school-based activities.

General Health

Minimum guidelines

  1. All employees who can work from home should continue to do so
  2. Employees should wear face coverings over their nose and mouth when within 6-ft. of others (cloth masks preferred). Exceptions may be made where accommodations are appropriate – see IDHR’s guidance
  3. Social distance of at least 6-ft. should be maintained between non-household individuals unless participating in activities permitted under Phase IV guidelines
  4. Employer should provide hand washing capability or sanitizer to employees and if applicable, customers
  5. Frequent hand washing by employees, and an adequate supply of soap/ paper towels and/or disinfectant/ hand sanitizer should be available

HR and Travel Policies

Minimum guidelines

  1. All employees and workers who perform work at the worksite (such as temporary or contract workers) should complete health and safety training related to COVID-19 when initially returning to work. Resources to design a training are posted on the DCEO Restore Illinois guidelines website
  2. Employees should follow CDC travel guidance to protect themselves and others during business travel
  3. Employees should not report to, or be allowed to remain at, work if sick or symptomatic (with cough, shortness of breath or di!iculty breathing, fever of 100.4 degrees or above, chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, new loss of taste or smell, or other CDC-identified symptoms), and sick or symptomatic employees should be encouraged to seek a COVID-19 test at a state or local government testing center, healthcare center or other testing locations
  4. Employers should clearly explain all paid leave policies and make workers aware that they may be eligible for benefits if they are sick or symptomatic
  5. Employers should be aware that the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 and provisions of state law prohibit employers from retaliating against workers for raising safety or health concerns

Encouraged best practices

  1. Provide reasonable accommodation for COVID-19-vulnerable employees, including but not limited to work from home (if feasible), reduced contact with others, use of barriers to ensure minimum distance between others whenever feasible or other accommodations that reduce chances of exposure

Health Monitoring

Minimum guidelines

  1. Sports organizations should make temperature checks available for employees and encourage their use. Organizers should post information about the symptoms of COVID-19 in order to allow employees, participants, and spectators to self-assess whether they have any symptoms and should consider going home
  2. All employers should have a wellness screening program. Resources outlining screening program best practices are posted on the DCEO Restore Illinois guidelines website
    1. Employers should conduct in-person screening of employees upon entry into workplace to verify no presence of COVID-19 symptoms
    2. If employee shift is greater than 5 hours, employers should also conduct mid-shift screening to verify no presence of COVID-19 symptoms (in person preferred, though virtually is permitted)
  3. If employee reports having any COVID-19 related symptoms, they should remain isolated at home for a minimum of 10 days after symptom onset AND until feverless and feeling well (without fever-reducing medication) for at least 24 hours OR confirmed to not have COVID-19 via 2 negative COVID-19 tests in a row, with testing done at least 24 hours apart
  4. Before allowing participation in sporting activities, sport organizers or coaches should ask whether participant is currently exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms. If participant does have symptoms, they should wait to enter premises or participate in any sporting activity for a minimum of 10 days after symptom onset OR until feverless and feeling well (without fever-reducing medication) for at least 24 hours OR confirmed to not have COVID-19 via 2 negative COVID-19 tests in a row, with testing done at least 24 hours apart
  5. Sport organizers or coaches should maintain attendance log of participants for contact tracing purposes. Sports organizers should maintain attendance logs of all facility rentals, spectators, and employees for contact tracing purposes
  6. If employee, coach, participant, or spectator reports having any COVID-19 related symptoms, sports organizer should encourage individual to contact their health care provider; if multiple individuals report having any COVID-19 related symptoms, sports organizer or coach should notify their local health department within three days of being informed of the prevalence of COVID-19 symptoms; if multiple individuals test positive for COVID-19, sports organizer or coach should notify their local health department within one day of positive test results
  7. If an employee, athlete, coach, or spectator is identified as being COVID-19 positive by testing, deep cleaning and disinfecting should be performed according to CDC guidelines
  8. Where appropriate, notify individuals who have been exposed. Individuals who tested positive should not be identified by name.
  9. Any individual who has had close contact (15 min or more) with any other person who is diagnosed with COVID-19 should quarantine for 14 days after the last/ most recent contact with the infectious individual and should seek a COVID-19 test at a state or local government testing center, healthcare center or other testing locations. All other individuals should be on alert for symptoms of fever, cough, or shortness of breath and taking temperature if symptoms develop

Physical Workspace

Minimum guidelines

  1. For school-based activities:
    1. Gatherings of up to 50 individuals who maintain safe social distance, indoors or outdoors, are allowed. Indoors, limits of 50 individuals or 20% the capacity of the space, whichever is lower, is the maximum no matter the spacing; everyone must wear face coverings at all times.
    2. Outdoors, multiple groups of 50 are allowed if thirty feet of space is maintained between groups, up to a maximum 20% the capacity of the space. Face coverings must be worn unless social distancing of 6-feet can be maintained.
  2. For non-school-based activities:
    1. Gatherings of up to 50 individuals, indoors or outdoors, are allowed. Multiple groups of 50 are allowed if thirty feet of space is maintained between groups.
  3. Sport organizers should display signage at entry with face covering requirements, social distancing guidelines, cleaning protocols, and any reduced capacity limit, in multiple languages as needed.
  4. Non-competitive activities (activities in Level 1) should be set up to allow for 6-ft. of distancing between participants whenever possible. If social distancing cannot be maintained during activity, participants should still maintain 6-ft. of distancing while on the sidelines/ not directly involved in the activity.
  5. If a sporting facility has stations for individual recreation activities, sport organizers should ensure at least 6-ft. between stations. If stations cannot be moved, sport organizers should limit number of open stations to ensure social distancing.
  6. If locker rooms and showers are a necessity, they should be configured with signage, tape, and other markings to ensure participants can maintain 6-ft. of social distance
  7. Sport organizers should designate an area for spectators with existing seating (e.g., bleachers) or in space around area of play. Gatherings should be restricted to 20% of capacity outdoors (multiple groups of 50 should have 30 feet between groups) and the lesser of 50 people OR 20% capacity indoors, inclusive of athletes, coaches, referees, and spectators. Organizers should ensure at least 6-ft. between seats occupied by spectators that are not members of the same household or party.
    1. Display visual markers (e.g., tape, cones) 6-ft. apart for seating
    2. Remove any furniture/ block o! areas not conducive to social distancing
    3. If seats cannot be moved, venue operators should limit number of open seats to ensure social distancing (e.g., zip tie unused seats, remove seat bottoms, cover unused seats)
  8. Concessions should follow Restaurant and Bar guidelines for all food and beverage operations and should be one of the following:
    1. Delivered by a server who takes orders from guests while seated with distancing requirements laid out in Restaurant and Bar guidelines; OR
    2. At outdoor kiosk, purchased pre-packaged via “grab and go” with queuing areas clearly marked to observe social distancing OR
    3. At indoor quick service areas over 500 square feet, purchased pre-packaged via “grab and go” (no queuing permitted)
    4. At indoor quick service areas 500 square feet and under, purchased pre-packaged via “grab and go” with queuing areas clearly marked to observe social distancing

Encouraged best practices

  1. Display visual markers 6-ft. apart at any queue points (e.g. check-in, along sidelines, concessions)
  2. Designate an area separate from others for anyone who exhibits COVID-like symptoms during the activity session to isolate from others before being picked up to leave
  3. Where building management practices allow, increase air turnover rates in occupied spaces and increase outside make-up air to the maximum extent practical
  4. Limit spectators to immediate household members or guardians of participants
  5. If practical, expand seating beyond current capacity (e.g., bleachers, stands) by utilizing any available field/ court space to encourage social distancing between spectators
    1. Use portable seating from other activity areas
    2. Encourage spectators to bring their own additional seating (e.g., chairs) from home
  6. Stream practices/ games online to minimize in-person spectating, if possible
  7. Appropriate clothing/shoes should be worn at all times to minimize sweat from transmitting onto equipment/surfaces.

Disinfecting/Cleaning Procedures

Minimum guidelines

  1. Cleaning and disinfecting of premises should be conducted in compliance with CDC protocols on a weekly basis
  2. Clean and disinfect common areas (e.g., restrooms) and surfaces which are touched by multiple people (e.g., entry/exit doorknobs, stair railings) frequently; every 2 hours recommended for high-tra!ic areas
  3. For outdoor activities, sports organizers should make hand sanitizer or hand washing stations available to participants
  4. Minimize sharing of high-touch equipment between nonhousehold individuals. If equipment is to be shared, sports organizers should sanitize equipment before and after use (see EPA approved list of disinfectants)
    1. Athletic equipment such as bats and batting helmets should be cleaned between each use. Other equipment, such as catchers gear, hockey helmets/ pads, wrestling ear guards, football helmets/other pads, lacrosse helmets/ pads/gloves/eyewear should be worn by only one individual and not shared
    2. Shared equipment such as athletic balls, thud pads, sleds should be cleaned frequently during practice and competitions
  5. Sanitization of locker rooms and showers should be completed at the beginning and end of practice/ games at minimum
  6. Sport organizer should sanitize any individual recreation stations before and after participant use
  7. All required disinfecting, cleaning, or sanitizing activities to be conducted by employees should be within their normal workday or during otherwise compensated time

Encouraged best practices

  1. If practical, sanitize shared equipment during use (e.g., between drills) and encourage frequent hand sanitizing or hand washing
  2. If practical, assign shared equipment to one household for duration of sports season
  3. Athletes should be encouraged to shower and wash their workout clothing immediately upon returning home

Staffing and Attendance

Minimum guidelines

  1. Group sizes should be limited to 50 total persons including participants, coaches, referees, and spectators
    1. Any team members not participating in gameplay should sit on the sidelines 6-ft. apart from one another
  2. Outdoors only, during practice as well as competitive games, multiple groups of 50 or fewer participants are permitted at once as long as:
    1. Venue allows for social distancing of participants, employees and spectators
    2. 30-ft of distancing is maintained between groups/ opposing teams on the sidelines
    3. Areas for each group are clearly marked to discourage interaction between groups outside of competitive game play
    4. Total number of people in the space does not exceed 20% of the capacity
  3. Indoor activities should follow the following capacity restrictions:
    1. For school-based activities, the total number of individuals allowed in the space is the lesser of 20% of the total capacity of the space OR 50 individuals, inclusive of athletes, coaches, referees, spectators, and others.
    2. For non-school-based activities, multiple groups of 50 or fewer participants are permitted at once as long as:
      1. Venue allows for social distancing of participants, employees and spectators
      2. 30-ft of distancing is maintained between groups (spectators and participants)
      3. Areas for each group are clearly marked to discourage interaction between groups outside of competitive game play
  4. Sport organizers should design a plan to allow for social distancing within the venue and if needed, designate employee(s) or coaches to monitor capacity limits and social distancing
  5. Sport organizers should limit the occupancy of common areas/ break rooms to allow for social distancing of 6-ft. or greater by removing/ decommissioning furniture or staggering break times; this guideline is not intended to diminish employees break time requirements

Encouraged best practices

  1. Stagger game and practice times to minimize congregation of groups
  2. Teams/ groups should be static, with no mixing of employees or participants between groups for the duration of the season, if practical
  3. Teams/ groups should not add new participants once the season has started
  4. If practical, assign participants from the same household to the same team or group
  5. Limit spectators to immediate household members or guardians of participants

External Interactions

Minimum guidelines

  1. Before allowing external supplier or non-participant visitor to enter, or while requiring them to wait in a designated area, sport organizers should ask whether external supplier or nonparticipant visitor is currently exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms
    1. If practical, sport organizers should take external supplier or non-participant visitor temperature using thermometer (infrared/ thermal cameras preferred, touchless thermometers permitted)
  2. Sport organizers should keep log of all external suppliers, visitors, spectators who enter premises
  3. Suppliers and other visitors should wear face coverings over their nose and mouth when entering premises (exceptions can be made for people with medical conditions or disabilities that prevent them from safely wearing a face covering)
  4. Spectators should wear face covering over their nose and mouth at all times except for when eating, drinking, or when outside and able to maintain a safe social distance (exceptions can be made for people with medical conditions or disabilities that prevent them from safely wearing a face covering)
  5. Limit spectators to immediate household members or guardians of participants

 Encouraged best practices

  1. Limit contact between external suppliers/ non-participant visitors and employees
  2. For youth sports, suspend post-activity group snacks
  3. As practical, parents dropping o! or picking up participants should wait at designated drop-off/ pick-up areas and should arrive during designated time window
  4. Volunteers should abide by static team/ group guidelines applied to employees with no mixing between groups for the duration of the season/ volunteer period, if practical
  5. If practical, limit spectators to immediate household members or guardians of participants for both outdoor and indoor sports
    1. Spectators from the same household should sit together

Customer Behaviors

Minimum guidelines

  1. For school-based or school-sponsored activities: 
    1. All participants and spectators must follow ISBE guidance, meaning all individuals must wear a face covering at all times, except while eating or drinking, unless they have a medical contraindication, are younger than 2 years of age, have trouble breathing or are unconscious, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to remove the cover without assistance.
    2. Face coverings must be worn indoors and outdoors. Face coverings may be removed outdoors while actively exercising or participating in practices or competitions, as long as social distancing can be maintained. Face coverings may also be removed while eating or drinking; however, strict adherence to social distancing must be maintained during these activities.
    3. It is recommended that programs require physicians notes for individuals who have a medical contraindication to wearing a face covering. Face coverings must fully cover the mouth and nose, and that the must fit snugly against the sides of the face with no gaps. Reusable face coverings should be machine washed or washed by hand and allowed to dry completely after each use.
  2. For non school-based or non school-sponsored activities:
    1. When exercising outdoors, participants should wear face coverings over their nose and mouth whenever not actively exercising or participating in practices or competition (exceptions can be made for people with medical conditions or disabilities that prevent them from safely wearing a face covering).
    2. When exercising indoors, face coverings should be worn at all times, including while exercising or participating in practices or competition.
  3. Before allowing participation in the sport, sport organizers or coaches should ask whether participant is currently exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms. If participant does have symptoms, they should wait to enter premises for a minimum of 10 days after symptom onset OR until feverless and feeling well (without feverreducing medication) for at least 24 hours OR confirmed to not have COVID-19 via 2 negative COVID-19 tests in a row, with testing done at least 24 hours apart
  4. Sport organizers or coaches should maintain attendance log of participants for contact tracing purposes
  5. Participants should wash hands with soap and water or use hand sanitizer before participating
  6. Participants should bring their own source of water and refrain from using any communal sources of hydration (e.g., team water or sports drink jug)
  7. There should be no shared athletic towels, clothing, or shoes between participants.
  8. No handshakes, high fives, fist bumps, hugs, touching “go-team” hand raises, etc. can occur.
  9. No spitting or blowing of the nose without the use of a tissue is allowed.

Encouraged best practices

  1. If practical, sport organizers should take participant temperature using thermometer (infrared/ thermal cameras preferred, touchless thermometers permitted) prior to participation in the activity.
  2. Activity sessions should be held by appointment only (e.g., limit walk-ins, limit pick-up games)
  3. Participants should sanitize hands regularly
  4. Participants should avoid touching facility accessories (e.g., goal posts, flags)
  5. Participants should use their own equipment (e.g., helmet, bat, gloves) as much as practical
  6. Participants should place personal belongings at least 6 feet away from other’ personal belongings