Do Outdoor Sports Need to Wear Masks?

Anyone who has symptoms of COVID should not attend games or practices. They must follow current CDC guidelines for isolation and quarantine. Masks should be worn when you are around other people for 10 days after they test positive or develop symptoms of COVID. This includes wearing a mask for all physical activities.

Attending outdoor events is thought to carry less risk than indoor events, which have less space and poorer ventilation. The CDC said the activity is less safe for unvaccinated people, who should remain masked as much as possible when dining outdoors. People who come out of isolation after 5 days of the onset of symptoms or who test positive should wear a mask for all activities around other people for a total of 10 days after the onset of symptoms or test positive for COVID-19, including all physical activity. Association of the incidence of COVID-19 with sports and the use of masks in high school athletes in the United States.

However, with the emergence of new variants of SARS-CoV-2 with higher infectivity rates, transmission during outdoor activities in the field is of greater concern. Children and teens who have participated or are unable to participate in important events, such as their last high school sports season or a state championship tournament, and those with a history of depression and anxiety may be more affected than others. If you find yourself in an area where running outdoors or riding a bicycle justifies wearing a face mask, there are a few things you should keep in mind. Participating in sports and physical activity allows young people to improve their cardiovascular health, strength, body composition and general fitness.

Brian Vernau, MD, FAAP, CAQSM, is a sports medicine pediatrician at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia with experience in primary care sports medicine. As children show up for health monitoring visits and pre-participation physical evaluations, parents and athletes are likely to ask questions about how best to ensure safety when considering returning to sports participation and physical activity. These include attending crowded outdoor events, such as concerts or sporting events, attending full-capacity indoor church services, and working out in indoor gyms. Parents and other bystanders with high-risk health conditions should weigh the risk of attending an indoor event or outdoor event where proper physical distancing cannot be maintained.

Proper use of masks during indoor sports decreases the risk of transmission of SARS-CoV-2, and people can choose to wear a mask at any time to help mitigate the risk of infection. The weighting of the risk versus the benefit of returning to sport depends on the sport and environment, the local activity of the disease and the individual circumstances, including the underlying health conditions that put the athlete or household contacts at high risk of contracting a serious illness if they contract one infection with SARS-CoV-2.The purpose of this guide is for pediatricians to inform families about how to mitigate the risk and prevent the spread of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, to others during sports and other physical activities. Depending on how they are conducted, many popular outdoor activities can also be done safely for those who are not vaccinated.