Reopen NYC: Play Ball! City parks to welcome outdoor youth sports again

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Friday that New York City parks can resume permitting athletic fields for lower and moderate-risk outdoor youth sports beginning Tuesday, September 15.

"Our children have been through so much this year and have been yearning for more outdoor play," de Blasio said. "Thankfully we're continuing to see improvement in beating back this disease, and can safely permit youth sports this fall. We'll continue to monitor our progress and put health and safety first."

City athletic fields have been opened for first come, first served, socially distanced play throughout the COVID-19 crisis. Now, youth sports leagues will be issued permits for organized outdoor play.

Permitted sports will include baseball, softball and soccer. Indoor sports, including swimming, will not be permitted.

Leagues must enforce the following regulations:
--Face coverings must be worn by all coaches, staff, spectators, and players on the sidelines; players are encouraged to wear while playing if possible
--Social distancing must always be practiced by all when not active in game play
--Spectators must be limited to two per player
--All must leave the field post game, there shall be no congregating

Parks will monitor league activities, and if a team accumulates three violations, permits will be revoked.

If New York City's percentage of positive COVID-19 tests exceed 3% positivity, permits will be suspended for all sports.

Elected officials, parents and coaches celebrated the city's decision.

"This is a victory for children and families who were looking for a safe, healthy outlet,- but it shouldn't have taken public pressure to get it right the first time," State Senator Andrew Gounardes said. "Low-to-moderate risk youth sports have been allowed by the state since July, and the Parks Department's last-minute decision not to issue youth fall sports permits caused undue stress for families. Still, I am glad that the kids will be allowed to play in their fall leagues. This is a common sense decision that will have a positive impact on equity, health and safety."

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