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MHSAA relaxes spectator limits for high school sports, effective immediately

Written by corres2

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The Michigan High School Athletic Association announced Tuesday an increase in its spectator limits from two fans per participant to up to 1,000 fans per venue, effective immediately.

The increase was set to take effect Friday, Oct. 9, which was good news for fans of high school football, but it will now apply to competitions beginning Tuesday afternoon.

RELATED: MHSAA to raise spectator limits for all sports, allow up to 1,000 for football

Under the MHSAA guidelines, crowd sizes at high school sports competitions will be determined by the venue’s size, with indoor venues in Regions 1-5, 7 and 8 allowed to hold 20 percent of their seating capacity up to 500 spectators, and indoor venues in Region 6 able to be at 25 percent capacity.

So, if a gym or pool seats 2,500 or more people, up to 500 will be allowed to enter, and if a gym holds fewer than 2,500 people, 20 percent of its total capacity will be granted admission (25 percent in Region 6).

Click here for a map of Michigan’s 8 regions

Outdoor athletic venues across the state will be allowed to hold 30 percent of their seating capacity up to 1,000 spectators.

So, a football stadium or soccer field that seats 3,333 or more will be allowed to sell 1,000 tickets, but a stadium that holds fewer than 3,333 will be limited to 30 percent of its total capacity.

For outdoor venues without fixed seating, such as cross country and golf courses, a site must maintain no more than 30 spectators per 1,000 square feet of the facility, up to a maximum of 1,000 fans, and site staff are encouraged to announce and remind spectators from different households to maintain six feet of distance at all times.

If local health department orders are stricter than the MHSAA limits, member schools and venues are expected to follow those local orders.

Schools can also choose to maintain the two-spectator-per-participant policy.

The new policy replaces the MHSAA’s two-spectators-per-participant limit, which was set to expire upon the start of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s Exective Order 183 on Oct. 9. The order allowed for outdoor social gatherings of up to 1,000 people as long as persons not part of the same household could maintain six feet of distance from one another.

But there was some uncertainty regarding the status of social gathering limits when the Michigan Supreme Court struck down down Executive Order 183, along with several other executive orders, after ruling Gov. Whitmer didn’t have the authority to extend Michigan’s coronavirus state of emergency beyond April 30.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services responded on Monday by issuing an emergency public health order requiring masks and setting social gathering limits aligning closely with those included in Executive Order 183.

The state health department’s order means athletes, coaches, spectators must continue to wear face coverings, and officials of outdoor sports must wear them when not actively officiating.

High school swimmers and divers are the lone exception to the mask-during-competition rule, while athletes competing this fall in cross country, tennis and girls golf must wear masks when they cannot maintain six feet of social distance.

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