Return To Play Guidelines Released - Jan. 25 Start Possible

The California Department of Public Health released the long-awaited return-to-play guidelines early Monday evening, giving hope for sports like cross country and track and field to have seasons in 2021. 

Return-to-play remains contingent on the end of stay-at-home orders and other public health concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic with the opportunity for competition to resume as early as Jan. 25.

"The return-to-competition date will be reassessed by Jan. 4, 2021 based on California disease transmission trends and is subject to change at any time given the level of COVID-19 transmission in California," according to details on the CDPH webpage.

"Teams must not participate in out-of-state tournaments; several multi-state outbreaks have been reported in California residents and around the nation."

A chart released by the CDPH breaks down sports by degrees of contact and aligns those sports based on California's colored tier system.

Outdoor sports under the low-contact designation include cross country and track and field. If allowed, those sports could take place despite regions in the purple -- most restrictive "widespread" -- tier. Currently the majority of California's 58 counties are in the purple tier. 

"COVID-19 continues to pose a severe risk to communities and requires all people in California to follow recommended precautions and adapt the way they live and function in light of this ongoing risk," according to the CDPH. "This guidance provides direction on outdoor and indoor youth and recreational adult sports activities to support a safe environment for these sports.

"The guidance applies to all organized youth sports -- including school- and community-sponsored programs, and privately-organized clubs and leagues -- and adult recreational sports. This guidance does not apply to collegiate or professional sports."

Table: Youth and Adult Recreational Sports - Permitted by Current Tier of County