By: KDKA-TV News Staff
PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Allegheny County and the WPIAL say the outdoor gathering limit of 50 still applies to sports, but teams on the sideline and the players on the field each count as individual gatherings.READ MORE: Third Stimulus Check: How Could The Economic Relief Package Put More Money In Your Pocket?
A joint statement from the county and WPIAL reads in part:
“…Each team is considered a pod. On a sideline, team members as well as coaches and staff, are physically distanced and following the order for universal face coverings. They are spread out and are not exceeding the 50-person gathering limit. On the opposite side of the field, the same is occurring in another pod. While playing the game, there is a third pod established with those players engaged in competition. All activity is occurring with mitigation measures in place for athletes, and established policies to address cases and outbreaks from games, should they occur.”
This means a game could have up to 150 people in three different “pods.”
The county’s new guidelines clear a hurdle for sports in Allegheny, where football would have been difficult. The North Allegheny athletic director told KDKA’s Paul Martino Thursday that there was no way to play high school football with the county’s 50 person limit.
In the rest of the state, outdoor gatherings are capped at 250 people. The county’s stricter limit is in place because of surging coronavirus cases earlier this summer.
Even with these new guidelines, some area high school athletic directors say this is still a problem.
“You have trainers. You have team doctors, you have an administrator. You have coaches. Assistant coaches,” said North Allegheny athletic director Bob Bozzuto.READ MORE: Allegheny County Emergency Rental Assistance Applications Available March 15
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Bozutto — who heads a statewide Athletic Director Association — is hoping to expand the plan to create two more pods of 50 people in the stands.
“We’re thinking there’s a pod you can put in the bleachers, on both sides, that will give you 250,” he says.
But Bozutto admits the health department has come a long way from where it was just 24 hours ago, when it looked like high school football wouldn’t be allowed.
“We’re very, very happy that for most of our schedule, we’re going to be okay. We’re going to be playing at Newman Stadium and we’ll be playing in Allegheny County.”
Plans from the PIAA and the WPIAL also prohibit spectators for K-12 sports, and put other safety guidelines in place like social distancing when athletes aren’t competing, required mask-wearing for coaches and staff and no sharing equipment.
Allegheny County issued additional guidance Friday: events must be hosted at a facility where regulation can occur, teams are not allowed to have more than 50 people in close proximity of each other and the total capacity may not exceed the state mandate of 250 people. The county also says along with coaches and staff, athletes on the sidelines should wear masks.MORE NEWS: Allegheny County Awarded $21.8M Grant To Help Reduce Homelessness
On Friday, the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association voted 25-5 in favor of beginning the fall sports season on Monday.