Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has signed a new executive order clarifying an issue that was lingering over competitive sports across the state.
After an order last week permitted sports training, practice and competition to commence in all areas of the state, many coaches, athletes and families were confused about whether athletes had to wear facial coverings while competing.
Executive order 2020-180, signed on Wednesday, indicates that a face covering must be worn at all times by athletes during training, practice and competition when they are unable to maintain 6 feet of distance from others.
Swimmers are an exception to the rule and do not need to wear a face covering while swimming.
The executive order means that the thousands of high school athletes that will be competing in cross country, football, girls golf, boys soccer, tennis and volleyball over the coming weeks will need to mask up unless they are able to maintain proper social distancing. For some sports — tennis and golf — this is certainly possible.
“The COVID-19 virus is easily spread through airborne particles and can affect everyone differently,” Whitmer said in a statement. “By wearing a face covering when proper distancing is not possible, athletes will be better protected from contracting the virus and spreading it to family members, frontline workers and vulnerable populations. We cannot afford to let our guard down. As we continue to fight this virus, we need to make smart and informed choices so we can beat COVID-19 together.”
Along with last week’s executive order green lighting competitive sports of all kinds, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services advised against contact sports, citing the elevated risk of transmitting COVID-19 associated with such activities.
Despite the words of caution, the Michigan High School Sports Association wasted no time in reinstating the fall football season it had previously postponed until the spring.