SALEM, Ore. – The Oregon Health Authority will be relaxing restrictions on outdoor sports, Gov. Kate Brown announced Wednesday.

“School sports play an important role in fostering students’ mental, emotional, and physical health. We will proceed with caution, to ensure that teams are following health and safety precautions to protect our athletes, their families, and their communities,” Brown said.

Starting this week, outdoor contact sports will be allowed with appropriate COVID-19 safety guidance in place in counties under lower and moderate risk. Practices and games will be allowed, including for high school football.

Counties in high and extreme risk can opt to allow outdoor contact sports as long as additional protocols are followed.

In these areas, sports organizations must offer on-site responsive testing for symptomatic individuals and close contacts. Contact information for contact tracing must also be provided, as well as a waiver identifying the health and safety risks. Participants must commit to isolation and quarantine if exposed to COVID-19.

Schools in high and extreme risk counties must meet the requirements for sports organizations and more. Brown said schools must have at least limited in-person instruction and be planning to install hybrid or full in-person learning this school year.

These schools also need to be in compliance with the state guidance for COVID-19 testing. To implement on-site testing, schools can partner with the university system.

“To all of Oregon’s high school athletes: I am asking you now to be leaders in your communities,” Brown said. “We’ve given you the chance to play, but with that opportunity comes great responsibility. If COVID-19 numbers spike, we may have to shut down contact sports again. When you are off the field, set the example for your peers: wear a mask, maintain physical distance, and avoid social gatherings.”

Schools that do not opt in will be limited to non-contact sports, practices and games. Indoor sports remain prohibited in all counties.