Who’s Mandating that Local Sporting Events Must be Spectator-Free?
The COVID-19 social distancing world we live in is certainly frustrating, even though most people realize it's a necessity. This week, social media in the Mohawk Valley exploded over stories of parents not being able to attend their children's games and practices.
"The Oneida County Health Department is restricting more than Cuomo," once person texted in to the Keeler Show. Currently, New York State requires that no more than 2 spectators per athlete can attend games and practices. "Picente isn't allowing any fans," the text read.
So, is this true? Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente was on WIBX's Keeler Show on Tuesday, and had a simple answer to the question: no. Picente said, they are only enforcing what the Governor's office is mandating. Any additional restrictions could be coming from the teams, the leagues, the schools or even the venue.
One caller said that his son plays youth hockey and he's not allowed to enter the Clinton Arena because parents aren't allowed in with their children. "I have to help my son lace up in the parking lot and then wait while he practices," he said. (listen below)
"At CVA we have two spectators per player," said Matt, a parent from the Valley. "When CVA travels to New Hartford or Whitesboro, we've been told (just this week) that there are no visitor team spectators allowed," he added.
Picente said any school, team or venue can set their own rules based on what they feel they need to do to stay safe. He added that he's had more complaints about sports than kids in school and thinks we should be focused on what's most important, keeping the virus out of schools so students can continue to learn in-person.
Tuesday afternoon, Picente issued the following statement:
“To be clear, the rules for how school sporting events are conducted are established by New York State, not Oneida County, and we are bound to follow and enforce whatever is directed. At no time has my office directed that spectators not be allowed at school sporting events, nor could we or would we ever set our own regulations on how these events should be attended.
“Due to confusion with the state guidelines set forth on this matter, my office has received many inquiries from school districts and parents about what is and isn’t allowed. In today’s Mohawk Valley Regional Control Group call, state officials acknowledged that the language used in the school sporting event guidance is flawed, and we are awaiting direct clarification.
“Until we receive that official word from the state, I am advising that school-sponsored sporting events limit their spectators to two per player until further notice, while following all of the social distancing and face covering rules that apply.”
Listen to Picente's interview with WIBX from Tuesday morning here: