Gov. Phil Scott on Friday loosened restrictions for school-based and recreational team practices while giving the green light for outdoor winter sports to commence competition.
Phase II of the state’s sports and recreation guidance takes effect on Jan. 18, Scott announced at his twice-weekly news conference.
“We know how important these activities are for their well-being, both for their physical and mental health,” Scott said.
Teams will now be allowed to expand practices to include drills with limited contact and hold intrasquad scrimmages. Games and scrimmages with other teams remain off limits.
Since Dec. 26, schools and youth leagues have been permitted to conduct practices to develop individual skills, strength and conditioning. Over those three weeks, Scott said the state saw “no spread of the virus tied to these activities.”
“With every decision we make, it will be based on the data and the advice of our experts,” Scott said.
While he undersold the news in his remarks, Scott also cleared the way for competition for outdoor sports such as alpine skiing, Nordic skiing and snowboarding. Bob Johnson, associate executive director of the Vermont Principals’ Association, confirmed those sports can hold races if groups are limited to 25.
Scott said he remains hopeful to allow competition soon for indoor sports such as basketball and hockey. As of Thursday, Vermont was one of just eight states in the nation without a start date for basketball games, according to the survey by the National Federation of State High Schools Association.
Dr. Mark Levine provided more insight into the decision-making, and perhaps hinted the potential return of games wouldn’t be until next month at the earliest.
“It’s not a dramatic change compared to where the students have been thus far,” Levine said of moving to Phase II. “It’s certainly a place to see how things go for several weeks before we advance things further.
“If we haven’t seen such exemplary safety in what’s going on right now, obviously that would give us pause.”
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