Governor says youth sports restrictions to be lifted ‘very, very soon’

Published 7:26 am Thursday, May 21, 2020

As segments of the local and state economy begin to reopen, tourism remains heavily restricted, primarily due to the limitations placed on the size of gatherings.

One such area that appears poised to reopen is youth sports, but it remains unclear as to when state restrictions will be lifted. But Wednesday, those hoping to hear “play ball” soon received a glimmer of hope that their shutdown might be coming to an end.

“The State Health Department, Dr. [Thomas] Dobbs and I are having good conversations about ways to get those parks back open in a safe and responsible way,” Gov. Tate Reeves said during his daily press conference Wednesday. “We are very near, I think, to putting out guidelines to make sure that we will protect the individuals.”

Two weeks ago, Reeves amended his executive order that expanded the number of people allowed in any one gathering from 10 to 20 and allowed parks and recreation facilities to reopen. But, the limit of 20 people prevented any tournaments or games to be held until the number was increased.

Memorial Day had been a traditional kickoff to a busy time for sports tournaments, but Reeves said Wednesday lifting restrictions by this weekend is unlikely.

“As you know, we made a decision a week or so ago to allow practices when we expanded the number of people from 10 to 20 in outdoor gatherings so that kids can get back on the field and be throwing and such things as that,” Reeves said. “I don’t think it will be by this weekend. But I do think it will be very, very soon we will have the opportunity to get back playing ball not only for practice but also for tournaments.

“As we talked about, the mental health issues from COVID-19 are so very challenging. Not only do our adults that work need some sense of normalcy, but our kids need a sense of normalcy,” Reeves said. “Getting them back on the ballfields will help that. We have just got to make sure we are at a point where we can do it in a safe and responsible way.”