State officials are requiring several community youth winter sports, including ice hockey and basketball, to be put on hold until December as part of new guidelines released by the Mills administration.
State Health and Human Services Commissioner Jeanne Lambrew says those youth sports will have to follow the guidelines for high school programs, so won’t be able to begin practices until mid-December or play games until January.
“We think, at this time, given what’s going on with COVID-19 in Maine, that for moderate-risk sports, irrespective of where they take place — in schools or in community-based settings — should, first of all, not be engaging in practices, in competition, given the risk of COVID-19 spread in these sports,” she says.
Lambrew says the delay will allow time to pass after any travel and gatherings during the holiday season, limiting spread of COVID-19.
“We have put the start date back, past the holidays, past Thanksgiving. Past the winter holidays, for competition, in the interest of trying to keep those players, referees, those communities safe,” she says.
Wrestling has been designated as a “higher-risk” sport in the state, and was not given a start date for practices or games.
Maine public health officials say that other states have reported several outbreaks related to ice hockey games.
Groups including the Maine Principals’ Association and the Maine School Superintendents’ Association support the new guidance in a joint release, with the MPA saying that the rules will allow for indoor volleyball to be played at some point over the next few months.