Laker Fans (copy)

Fans are welcome back at Minnesota State High School League sporting events — but in a limited capacity.

Just hours before the first volleyball matches of the 2020 Minnesota State High School League were set to be played, new planning guidance from the Minnesota Department of Health allows spectators to attend indoor events.

Previously, MSHSL-sponsored sports such as volleyball and girls swimming and diving were not allowed to host spectators.

The new guidance, released Oct. 8, is:

  • Each team/group at an indoor event is allowed up to a total allocation of two spectators per participant. Consistent with other Stay Safe guidance, spectators must be separated by at least six feet between households/spectator groups and event spaces can’t exceed 25% of total capacity.
  • For indoor events where 12 feet can’t be maintained between participants and spectators, participants must be included in the total capacity count. If spectators and participants can be clearly separated by at least 12 feet, then participants do not need to be included in the total capacity count.
  • No venue may exceed a capacity of 250 spectators.
  • In some situations, small venues may only allow for an allocation of one spectator or less per participant, depending on the size of the venue. Spectators are only allowed at official competitions or events.

"School-based activities and athletics are an incredible experience for our students and we are excited that a limited number of family members will now be able to share in the experience of indoor activities, games and contests; we appreciate all that our member schools are doing in managing the academics and activities in this pandemic, League Executive Director Erich Martens said in a statement.

"This updated guidance is important in providing additional direction for our schools and their activities programs in how to administer spectators indoors," he continued. "At the same time, it will be incredibly important that all spectators and participants follow all of the MDE and MDH safety guidance and protocols in working to keep everyone involved as safe as possible."

Guidance also states school districts and charter schools must require advanced reservations and/or ticketing (e.g. on-line, app-based, email, will-call). Walk-ins, impromptu purchases or admittance will not be allowed.

Names, phone number, and/or email must be collected as part of the reservation so that quick notification can be done if an individual develops COVID-19.

John Millea of the MSHSL acknowledged the new guidelines goes into effect with Oct. 8 events.

MDE continues to stress that sporting events are high risk for COVID-19 transmission and are further high risk for activities that promote airborne particles of COVID-19.

Tom Schardin covers sports for Savage and Prior Lake. He is dependable, sarcastic and always joking around. Tom enjoys running and swimming and is often busy coaching his two kids' sports teams.

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