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.”