High school athletes and participants in recreational sports may each have up to two spectators at their games provided that social distancing can be maintained and the venue’s capacity does not exceed 50 percent.
Westchester County Executive George Latimer announced the guidelines on Thursday set by the county Health Department based on guidance from the state. Individual schools and recreational facilities may still choose to have stricter guidelines.
“We want to make to make sure it’s clearly, publicly understood and this is a way for us to try and integrate a little more of our normal life back, slowly, methodically based on the numbers and based on the results of the pandemic, but we think we’re making some progress,” Latimer said.
He said the guidelines, which took effect on Monday, allow an athlete’s parents or other family members to attend their game, something that was never in question previously but could be considered a luxury as society seeks to return to normal.
The guideline would apply to both the home and visiting teams’ players, Latimer said.
Youth and school sports have always been events for the entire family, something that officials are hoping to restore as a small measure of enjoyment.
“We understand that parents want to see their children play sports, this is a huge part of our culture and parents should be involved in their children’s lives,” said County Health Commissioner Dr. Sherlita Amler. “As long as social distancing is observed, and masks are worn, we can accomplish both goals – safety and involvement.”
In another pandemic-related development on Thursday, Latimer said Westchester is scheduled to receive its first 1,000 doses of the new Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccination next week, which will help accelerate inoculation of county residents.
The Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which trials have shown to be 85 percent effective in preventing severe or critical virus cases, will be the first single-dose shot to be distributed. The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require two shots, three and four weeks apart, respectively, for its recipients.
Nearly 100,000 people have been vaccinated at the state- and county-run sites in Westchester as of this week, Latimer said, including 81,000 at the County Center, and 15,000 between Westchester Community College and the Court Street location. The armory in Yonkers has come online this week, he said.
That does not include pharmacies scattered around the county, which have been vaccinating seniors 65 and up.
The state has also extended eligibility for supermarket, grocery store and bodega workers, Latimer said.
To determine vaccination eligibility and find a vaccine location, residents may visit www.am-i-eligible.covid19vaccine.health.ny.gov. The vaccine hotline can also be called at 1-833-697-4829.