MHSAA's Uyl discontinues face-mask requirement for outdoor sports

David Goricki
The Detroit News

There’s finally good news in the COVID-19 pandemic with vaccines on the scene and the numbers of positive cases going down, opening the door for high school athletes to compete without wearing masks outdoors for the first time.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s administration announced Friday it will lift mask requirements for fully vaccinated individuals indoors through a new epidemic order while residents who are outdoors no longer need to wear masks regardless of their vaccination status.

Whitmer called the announcement a “huge step” on the state’s path to normalcy in a video posted on social media. The changes go into effect at 9 a.m. Saturday and follow guidance from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Michigan High School Athletic Association executive director Mark Uyl announced late Friday night that starting Saturday, outdoor sport athletes, coaches and staff do not need to wear masks. Fully vaccinated individuals (14 days past their second dose of Pfizer or Moderna or one dose of Johnson & Johnson) involved in indoor sports are no longer required to use a face covering.

Weekly testing of those participating in spring sports continues until May 31. At that point, vaccinated players will be exempt.

Spectator limits at spring outdoor events remain, Uyl confirmed.

Uyl anticipated the moves during a radio appearance Friday afternoon.

“I’m reading directly from Governor Whitmer’s press release today and it says quote, ‘Under the updated MDHHS gatherings and mask order, Michiganders who are outdoors will no longer need to wear a mask regardless of vaccination status,'" Uyl said on "The Huge Show."  "... there's no string that appears for sports or contact sports, so we’re just waiting to see that in the order that goes into effect tomorrow morning at 9 a.m."

Come Monday, when the Catholic League baseball tournament semifinals at Comerica Park take place, players from Detroit Catholic Central and Orchard Lake St. Mary’s will take the field at 10 a.m. without masks.

Uyl noted summer activities begin June 7 and will include indoor team camps with basketball and volleyball as well as time in weight rooms. There's also summer baseball and softball, football and cross country athlete training. 

"We’re hoping that by the time June 7 gets here it will be a world without face masks," he said.

Uyl is also hoping that football in the fall looks just like it did in 2019, with the season starting on time and looking like pre-COVID times.