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Gov. Scott prepares to let some recreational games begin

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MONTPELIER — Some organized recreational sports leagues are ready to play ball after the coronavirus pandemic put plans on pause.

Gov. Phil Scott said new guidelines are meant for low-contact recreational sports — such as baseball, hockey, lacrosse, soccer, softball, tennis and volleyball — but not for professional or college teams. Inter-team scrimmages will be allowed starting June 15 and hope of games within leagues could begin as soon as July 1.

"To be clear, we're not ready for high-contact sports," Scott said during a press conference Monday, meaning activities such as football and wrestling, but low- or no-contact drills will be allowed.

Activities should not include more than 25 people including players, coaches and officials. Crowd sizes also should not exceed 25 people.

Face coverings will be encouraged when possible. Spitting and sharing water bottles are not allowed. Distance should be kept between participants when they are not in play. Equipment and other supplies need to be cleaned and disinfected regularly, and sharing these items should be limited as much as possible. Tournament-style events are not permitted.

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Last week, the Brattleboro Department of Recreation and Parks decided not to allow softball fields to be used for league play. Carol Lolatte, department director, said she worked in communication with men's and women's leagues, which respectively have about 38 and 10 teams.

"We wouldn't be able to offer the experience the players have come to appreciate," she said.

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Spring programs for youth leagues organized by the department end around this time of year. The department does not have youth leagues in the summertime.

Lolatte said state guidelines will be taken into consideration as it prepares for soccer and field hockey leagues in the fall. Registration begins in late August.

The new guidelines come about a month after Vermont began allowing some outdoor recreation to resume in an addendum to the governor's state of emergency order. Scott said a growing case count may seem worse than it is, and can be attributed to expanded testing and tracing strategies.

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Vermont is now conducting an average of about 1,227 tests for the virus each day. Mark Levine, public health commissioner, said more than 1,000 people in Winooski and surrounding communities were tested after an outbreak was reported about two weeks ago.

About 62 cases are believed to be linked to the outbreak. Of those cases, the virus was present in 38 adults and 24 children.

"Thankfully, there have been no reports of hospitalizations, no deaths," Levine said. "We are offering testing every day this week in Winooski and in Burlington."

Reach staff writer Chris Mays at cmays@reformer.com and at @CMaysBR on Twitter.


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