MDH: Face coverings required for certain youth sports

Eric Chaloux
Updated: December 29, 2020 06:06 PM
Created: December 29, 2020 05:23 PM

When youth hockey players lace up the skates, they'll also need to be wearing a cloth face covering when the game moves indoors next week, according to new Minnesota COVID-19 guidelines.

"We do know that indoors is riskier than outdoors in terms of spread of virus," said Minnesota State Epidemiologist and MDH Medical Director Dr. Ruth Lynfield. “The timing of it now is the American Academy of Pediatrics did come out with updated guidelines in early December on wearing masks during sports for youth with a couple of exceptions"

Once other youth sports also return after Jan. 4, all participants will be required to wear masks for indoor sports at practices and later in the month for games.

Exceptions have been made where a mask may be considered a safety concern. The exceptions include gymnastics, cheerleading, wrestling and swimming and diving, according to MDH.

"We have more data that masks can be tolerated during exercise, and we've learned over the course of the pandemic that masks are an important tool in preventing the transmission of virus," Lynfield said.

Hockey guidelines under new rule

5 EYEWITNESS NEWS received numerous messages from hockey parents after the new policies were announced looking for clarification on what could be allowed on the ice.

“We’re still seeking some clarity ourselves. To our understanding, the masks that are approved are the cloth or fabric that go right on the face,” said Minnesota Hockey’s Executive Director Glen Andresen. “There is a mask out there by CCM, the 'game on' mask that includes a mask that is built-in (to helmet cage). To our understanding, those work."

Minnesota Hockey announced the state changes to parents, players and coaches on Monday.

Andresen said they don’t believe based on state guidelines that clear helmet cages with a special plastic insert over the holes follow new state guidelines.

MSHSL: Winter sports to return Jan. 14, masks required

MDH’s COVID-19 Sports Practice Guidance for Youth and Adults also shows a neck gaiter, as an approved face covering.

“My kids are willing to do anything to skate," said Janice Haskamp, from Sauk Centre.

Haskamp has two children who play youth hockey.

On Tuesday, the family spent the day trying on a variety of masks while skating, Haskamp said.

"I'm just trying to see how this is going to work with hockey helmets, mouth guards, the safety of it, how are they going to see the puck, and just comfort level," Haskamp said.

Andresen said they are trying to figure out how required mouthguards and now state-required masks will work.

“Minnesota’s not the first state to implement this there are a lot of states across the country that have required masks for players," Andresen said.

Players will be allowed to take water breaks from their own bottles, according to Andresen during practice and games.

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