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Health department notes coronavirus restrictions for fans

Daily Inter Lake | December 30, 2020 1:00 AM

The Flathead City-County Health Department on Monday released extensive COVID-19 guidelines and procedures for high school and middle school sporting events and other winter activities.

The five-page manual, which is supplemented by 11 other guides tailored to certain schools and sports, outlines safety practices for transportation, ticket takers, event spectators and more. It is a collaborative effort between the health department and athletic directors throughout Flathead County.

Under the terms of Gov. Steve Bullock’s directive, the “sponsor” of an event is responsible for ensuring compliance with COVID-19 requirements issued by the governor or the local health officer. For purposes of athletic events and activities, the new manual states the school district of the home team is deemed the activity’s sponsor.

County schools have suspended all overnight trips until further notice, with the exception of post-season play or in the case of poor winter road conditions. Concessions have also been eliminated “until further notice.”

All ticket takers, event workers, spectators and fans are required to wear masks and social distance — two common COVID-19-related measures that are consistently highlighted throughout the entire guide.

Only two home and visiting team spectators will be allowed per participant for basketball and wrestling events. Two tickets will be given to each home team athlete and coach for parents and/or guardians prior to the event, though the document notes some schools may utilize a pass list instead. No spectators will be allowed for swimming events.

Spectators will only be allowed to watch contests “of which they have a participant actively participating,” the manual states.

As for the athletes, anyone who utilizes the training room must wash their hands or use hand sanitizer upon entry and exit and masks should be worn at all times. Only five athletes will be allowed in the training room at a time and when in the room, they will be expected to maintain social distancing. Athletes and coaches must be masked at all times in the locker rooms as well and athletes will be encouraged to shower at home and to leave the locker room as soon as possible after games and practices.

To view the plan, go to flatheadhealth.org and click on “COVID-19 HS & MS Winter Activities Guidelines and Procedures.”