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COVID19 2021-01-27 Update: Revised Guidance for Youth and Recreational Sports in Tompkins County

On Friday, January 22, 2021, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced he would allow higher risk sports to resume in New York effective February 1, 2021, subject to local health department approval. The Tompkins County Health Department is announcing that the Public Health Director, Frank Kruppa, is approving higher risk sports to restart with additional requirements and precautions due to COVID-19.


“Contact sports bring people close together and increase the risk of transmission. If schools and other organizations, athletes, and their parents/guardians choose to resume higher risk sports, they must do so in a safe manner and give considerable thought to prevent the spread of COVID-19. We must work together during these stressful times to ensure that our youth athletes have the opportunity to participate in athletics safely,” stated Frank Kruppa.

Higher Risk sports include, but are not limited to:

  • Football
  • Wrestling
  • Ice hockey
  • Rugby
  • Basketball
  • See the NYS guidance for a full list

Higher risk sports are allowed subject to NYS Department of Health's INTERIM GUIDANCE FOR SPORTS AND RECREATION DURING THE COVID-19 PUBLIC HEALTH EMERGENCY. The State’s guidance is the minimum requirement; local leagues, facilities, organizations, and schools may issue additional guidance. The Tompkins County Health Department has issued the following additional requirements and recommendations:

  • Sports organizations including schools must prepare a COVID safety plan in accordance with the interim guidance, post it on their website, and submit an email with a link to the plan to for our files.
  • If the organization does not have a website, an electronic or hard copy of the plan must be submitted to the Tompkins County Health Department for our files.
  • Plans must address how compliance with requirements will be assured.
  • Tournaments are not allowed.
  • Sports associated with schools must comply with the corresponding school’s transportation plan.
  • Health screenings are required for all employees and strongly encouraged for players, patrons, and spectators.
  • It is strongly recommended that contact information for all employees, players, patrons, and spectators be obtained including names, phone numbers and email addresses, if available.
  • Carpooling is strongly discouraged.
  • Maintaining practice pods in small sizes without mixing athletes is recommended.

Key requirements previously in effect for lower and moderate risk sports now apply to higher risk sports as well. These requirements include:

  • Ensure 6’ distance at all times possible, this is of special concern in common areas.
  • All individuals not actively participating in sports must wear acceptable face coverings when in common areas or when unable to physically distance.
  • Players must wear acceptable face coverings unless unable to tolerate a face covering for the physical activity.
  • No more than 2 spectators per player. Other capacity restrictions may apply.
  • Signage, distance markers, and flow control are required. 
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces on the field, court, or play surface, as well as drinking fountains. This should be done at least daily.

This approval for higher risk sports may be withdrawn based on an increase in the positivity rate and/or the presence of more transmissible variants of the COVID-19 virus.

Travel for practice or play for lower, moderate, and higher risk sports is prohibited outside of the Southern Tier New York region and contiguous counties/regions. Interstate travel is strongly discouraged and must strictly comply with the NYS travel advisory.

Note that the revised NYS Interim Sports Guidance now allows tournaments for lower and moderate risk sports.

Please read the entire Interim Sports and Recreations guidance and safety plan template available at:

For local updates and information, check the TCHD website.   

The Tompkins County Health Department is your partner for a healthy community. Find us online at, and follow us on Facebook at and on Twitter at @TompkinsHealth.