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Sports return in Columbia with a different look under COVID-19

Fathers Day Baseball Tournament in Columbia, MO


Recreational sports in Columbia resumed last month, and so far most spectators and players have been diligent in following social distancing guidelines, a parks and recreation supervisor said.

Sports Supervisor Joey Wilmes with Columbia Parks and Recreation said he hasn't had any issues with spectators and players following social distancing guidelines.

Wilmes said they've been playing games since late May. Practices started back up in early May, and the city has posted COVID-19 return-to-play guidelines on its website.

Those guidelines were written mostly by Wilmes, and he said he looked at many of the governing bodies and national organizations that the city works with for guidance in reopening sports activities.

Once Wilmes finished these guidelines, they were sent to the health department for approval. He said the department wanted to emphasize the importance of contact tracing.

Parks and Recreation has rosters of players, umpires and families in order to be able to contact everyone if someone were showing symptoms of COVID-19 or tested positive.

The city is asking that all athletes and spectators are free of any flu-like symptoms for 72 hours before coming out to the fields. These symptoms include fever, shortness of breath, chills and sore throat.

These guidelines are being enforced on a complaint-driven basis. "We're not really out there, chasing people down," Wilmes said.

He also noted there hasn't been a complaint thus far.

Columbia Parks and Rec Director Mike Griggs said senior sporting events will include temperature checks.

The city is also asking that all athletes bring their own water bottles, and refrain from using team coolers or snacks.

Columbia and Boone County's health orders require sports participants to be in stable groups of no more than 50 and limit spectators to 50 percent of the venue capacity or 100 people, whichever is fewer.

Spectators are also required in the order to following social distancing rules.

Only immediate family members of players are allowed to attend Parks and Recreation league sports. All players are also expected to wipe down and disinfect all equipment before arriving at a facility.

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Ben Fein


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