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MPA updates mask guidelines for outdoor sports

In response to the state’s latest outdoor mask update, the MPA announced masks won’t be required for outdoor practices and games

AUGUSTA, Maine — The Maine Principals’ Association (MPA) on Wednesday announced updated guidelines for mask use at outdoor events.

MPA Executive Director Michael Burnham said the update comes in response to the state’s announcement Tuesday that masks will no longer be required in Maine outdoors, except for when social distancing is difficult to maintain.

The MPA will follow those same guidelines. Masks won’t be required for outdoor practices and competitions, but athletes on the bench will be required to wear them. Face coverings will also be required when people are indoors, such as in locker rooms or on busses.

The MPA said spectators will not be required to wear masks at outdoor events if they’re able to maintain six feet of distancing.

Prior to this update, the MPA required all athletes, coaches, staff, officials, and spectators to wear face coverings during games and practices.

All other MPA guidelines remain in effect at this time. Those include:

  • 75 percent outdoor capacity until May 24, when it will be restored to 100 percent
  • All student-athletes, coaches, staff, and officials must complete and pass COVID-19 self-screening questions before events
  • Unnecessary physical contact, such as high fives, handshakes, fist bumps, chest bumps, hugs, or team huddles, is prohibited
  • There is to be no chanting or singing from the bench area or sidelines

The update to Maine’s outdoor mask requirement took the U.S. CDC’s recommendations a step further, lifting the requirement for all people rather than just those who are fully vaccinated. Maine CDC Director Dr. Nirav Shah said Tuesday the state felt comfortable expanding the U.S. CDC’s recommendation because Maine’s vaccination rates “are among the top in the country … and that makes a difference.”

According to the Bloomberg vaccine tracker, Maine is leading the nation in the percentage of the population fully vaccinated.

Shah said this outdoor mask update "is just a recognition that times are changing because of vaccinations, and with it—our policies are changing."

Maine Department of Health and Human Services Commissioner Jeanne Lambrew echoed that sentiment during the Maine CDC briefing Tuesday and said the more people are vaccinated, the more the ability the state has to alter the public health protocols because the risk for transmission of COVID-19 is lower.

"The sooner you get your shot, the sooner we can begin to move towards those sorts of activities and engagements we all love," Lambrew said.