Question: Could you please clarify what is and what isn’t allowed with youth sports teams using the public parks? Shouldn’t everyone be wearing masks? What about potlucks? Teams aren’t supposed to be doing that, right? Are teams even allowed to use the parks for practice anymore with the limit going back down to groups of 10? There seems to be a lot of confusion among parents and sometimes even coaches.
Answer: We’ll start by saying that Honolulu County’s rules regarding park use may change again, as officials try to get a handle on Oahu’s rising COVID-19 case count. That said, as of deadline Wednesday, outdoor sports teams, such as soccer and baseball, were still allowed to use city parks and fields for practices and games, with precautions, because those organized activities are not considered social gatherings, which may not exceed 10 people. That means that large social gatherings commonly associated with youth sports — such as postgame potlucks — are not allowed, said Nathan Serota, a spokesman for Honolulu County’s Department of Parks and Recreation.
Serota referred to Mayor Kirk Caldwell’s updated Emergency Order 2020-22 and to general department procedures to answer your questions:
>> Order 2020-22 restricts indoor or outdoor social gatherings at city parks to 10 people or fewer, even while wearing face masks or maintaining physical distance requirements, which means staying at least 6 feet away from people who are not in your household.
>> However, the Department of Parks and Recreation will continue to permit outdoor team sporting events, which allow for up to 100 people to attend the event, including athletes, coaches and spectators, because such events are not meant to be social gatherings. This includes practices and games. Face mask and physical distancing rules apply as described below.
>> Coaches, staff, athletes and nonprogram participants (including parents/guardians) must always wear face coverings when spectating, arriving and leaving. Face masks are not required for children under age 5.
>> Athletes are not required to wear a face mask while actively playing the game, but should if they can safely do so. As previously mentioned, athletes must wear a facial covering when not in the game, including on the sidelines, unless their age exempts them from this requirement.
>> When not engaged in competitive team play or training that requires close contact, close contact should be reduced or eliminated to the extent possible.
>> Spectators should maintain physical distancing of at least 6 feet from people not in their households, to the extent possible.
>> Everyone should leave the park when the sporting event is over, wearing their face masks and maintaining physical distance. Potlucks and other postgame parties involving more than 10 people are not allowed, as they would be considered social events.
>> Teams should seek permits for designated park use, to ensure that the facility is available to them and to reassure observers. “Anything more than 10 people is going to arouse suspicion,” Serota said, which Kokua Line can affirm by the number of calls we’re getting questioning organized sports activities in city parks. To get a permit, the first step is to contact the administrator for the particular park, Serota said.
You can read the mayor’s order at 808ne.ws/731order. That’s a direct link, and we’ll also provide a path from the city’s website. From the homepage at honolulu.gov, click on the red box marked “Proclamations, Orders, and Rules re: COVID-19,” then click on the blue box marked “Mayor’s Emergency Order 2020-22, Amended and Restated Ho‘oulu i Honolulu 5.0, Aug. 3, 2020.” If the mayor further amends the order, version 23 will be posted on the same page.
Write to Kokua Line at Honolulu Star-Advertiser, 7 Waterfront Plaza, Suite 210, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., Honolulu 96813; call 529-4773; fax 529-4750; or email firstname.lastname@example.org.