Washington Governor Jay Inslee announced on Tuesday a new two-phased plan that allows the reopening of restaurants, some group entertainment and, yes, sports in parts of the state that meet new COVID-19 benchmarks.
How that will impact the high school sports calendar might be determined Wednesday when the WIAA Executive Board meets.
In Phase 2 of the Healthy Washington plan, moderate risk indoor sports and all outdoor sports will be allowed to play games. The plan goes into effect on Monday, the same day current restrictions elapse, and replaces the Safe Start plan that was previously in place.
In order to move to Phase 2, regions must show a 10 percent decrease trend in case rates, a 10 percent decrease in COVID-19 hospitalizations, a lower than 10 percent test positivity rate and an intensive care unit occupancy rate under 90 percent. No regions are currently in Phase 2, Inslee said.
“What we announce today won’t result in big significant reopenings today, but it is a plan so we can do that tomorrow when these conditions exist to allow us to move forward,” Inslee said.
The plan divides the state into eight regions based on health care systems, instead of dividing the state by county.
In Phase 2, outdoor sports at every risk level are allowed to compete with a maximum of 200 spectators, though tournaments are not allowed. Indoor sports deemed low and moderate risk may hold competitions in Phase 2.
Under Phase 1, low risk indoor sports may practice in groups of no more than five, while low and moderate risk outdoor sports may practice in larger groups.
The WIAA Executive Board meets Wednesday afternoon to review the current 2021 high school schedule, which has winter sports starting practices Feb. 1 in the first of three condensed season. The board meeting was postponed from Monday in anticipation of the state’s revised return-to-play metrics.
High school sports in Washington have been sidelined due to the pandemic since March. Most states around the country have resumed high school athletics in some form. In the press conference Tuesday, Inslee showed confidence for the state’s stringent response to the virus, adding that 45 states have higher COVID-19 infection rates than Washington.
More phases will be added “when it becomes clear we have knocked down COVID activity emphatically,” Inslee said.
Watch the full press conference here: