Sports Safety Guidance

Updated June 11, 2021

This guidance issued by the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO), the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), and the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) pertains to all youth recreational sports, including, but not limited to, school-based sports (high school and elementary school), 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.  This guidance supersedes all previously issued All Sports Guidance issued from DCEO, IDPH and /or ISBE.

Fully Vaccinated Individuals

Individuals who are fully vaccinated against the virus that causes COVID-19 may resume sports-related activities without wearing masks or maintaining physical distance for all sports, except where required by laws, rules, or regulations, including local business and workplace guidance.  Schools and other sports organizers are permitted to require face coverings and physical distancing for all individuals, including those who are fully vaccinated, as they deem appropriate.  Individuals are fully vaccinated two weeks after receiving the second dose in a two-dose COVID-19 vaccine series (Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna) or two weeks after receiving a single-dose COVID-19 vaccine (Johnson & Johnson/Janssen). 

Individuals Not Fully Vaccinated

Indoor Sports

Individuals who are not fully vaccinated should continue to wear a mask during sports-related activities for sports played indoors, except when wearing a mask is against the recommendation of an individual’s health care provider or poses an injury risk as described by the American Academy of Pediatrics (see “When should face masks be worn?”).  Many sports organizers have heat policies in place to help ensure that participants do not experience heat-related illness and, if they do, organizers know how to properly respond.  Participants who are not fully vaccinated should have extra masks available and sports organizers should have a supply of extra masks available to participants who are not fully vaccinated.  Individuals should replace any mask that becomes wet with sweat or water.

Outdoor Sports

Individuals who are not fully vaccinated may resume sports-related activities without wearing masks for any sport played outdoors, except where required by laws, rules, and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance.  While masks may be removed during training, competition, and other active exercise according to the provisions above, it is important that, whenever possible, individuals who are not fully vaccinated continue to wear a mask during contacts with other unvaccinated individuals that do not occur during gameplay, such as on the sideline or bench, in the locker room, during team meetings, in the weight room, on the team bus or carpooling, or during meals, especially when indoors.

Masking Guidelines for Sports Participants by Vaccination Status

*Schools and other sports organizers may continue to require face coverings and/or social distancing for all individuals, including those who are fully vaccinated.

Travel and Competition Restrictions

At Phase 5 of the Restore Illinois guidelines, all sports may resume sports-related activities without restrictions on travel or numbers of teams in competition or attendance.  Before traveling for sports activities, teams should review the most recent data on county-level transmission from IDPH for counties in Illinois or the CDC for counties in other states.  If playing outside of Illinois, teams should avoid travel to areas of higher risk as recommended in the IDPH Travel Guidance.  For more information and guidance, review the Human Rights (HR) and Travel Policies below.

Because most youth participants have not yet had the time to become fully vaccinated, IDPH also continues to recommend regular weekly COVID-19 screening testing for youth participants who are not fully vaccinated and playing sports that involve sustained close contacts with other participants who are not fully vaccinated (e.g., basketball, boxing, football, hockey, contact lacrosse, martial arts, rugby, wrestling).  When possible, participants should receive a negative test for COVID-19 as close as possible to competition and no longer than 72 hours before play if receiving a molecular test (e.g., SHIELD Illinois) or 24 hours if receiving an antigen test (e.g., BinaxNOW).  For more information on screening testing, review IDPH guidance on Testing for COVID-19 in Community Settings and Schools and the CDC operational guidance for K-12 schools.

Guidance Document: