HARRISBURG, Pa. (KDKA/AP) — Governor Tom Wolf’s administration has released guidance on the return of professional sports in Pennsylvania.
In a release on Wednesday, Gov. Tom Wolf said professional sports are allowed to practice or play in the “yellow” and “green” phases without “on-site or venue spectators” if they have a coronavirus safety plan.
The plan must be approved by the state Health Department and include testing or screening and monitoring of all players and personnel, the release said.
“No fans or spectators may be permitted on interior or exterior venue property,” the release says.
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The Wolf administration says it defines professional sports as “any sporting event at which the participants are paid by a league or team, or at which individuals or teams receive prizes or purse.”
Allegheny County is currently in the “yellow” phase, while Philadelphia is in the “red” phase.
Pennsylvania follows New Jersey and New York in allowing pro sports to resume practice and play. Youth sports are allowed to resume in areas in the green phase.
Major League Baseball, the NHL and the NBA have all been on hiatus since mid-March and the NFL has been holding its organized team activities “virtually,” though the reopening means players could potentially participate in person when mandatory mini-camps are held next month.
The NHL announced that it hopes to return at some point this summer with an expanded 24-team playoff format in two host cities.
Pittsburgh is among the finalists to serve as an NHL “hub” and Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford said Wednesday that players will be allowed to work out independently in small groups at the team’s practice facility in Cranberry starting as early as next week. Any official NHL-sanctioned “training camp” would not start before July 1.
Rutherford said the team will be meticulous in following health guidelines whenever players return.
“We are very sensitive to what’s going on and we will be very careful with it,” Rutherford said.
Pittsburgh Steelers’ wide receiver Diontae Johnson said Wednesday he doesn’t anticipate playing in front of fans anytime soon.
“It’ll be different,” Johnson said. “The game just wouldn’t feel right. It’s just like another practice.”
Also on Wednesday, the Wolf administration’s new guidance allows gatherings of 250 people or less in the “green” phase.
Last week, the Steelers’ director of communications says only 50 percent of individual 2020 game tickets will be sold to the public because the team wants to be prepared for possible social distancing scenarios.
More information on the Coronavirus pandemic:
- CDC Coronavirus Information
- CDC Global Map of Confirmed COVID-19 Cases
- Pennsylvania Department of Health Information
- Allegheny County Health Department Information
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