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May 27, 2020

Pennsylvania outlines plan for pro sports teams to return to practice, competition

Gov. Wolf's announcement most impacts the Eagles and Phillies, who intend to hold workouts in South Philly

Sports Coronavirus
Wells-Fargo-Center-Locked_031620_usat Bill Streicher/USA TODAY Sports

A general view of the Wells Fargo Center after the arena shut it doors due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

A day after New Jersey announced that professional sports teams in that state could return to practice (and even competition), Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf provided his state's plan to allow pro teams to do the same, without spectators of course.

Per Wolf, teams can begin to open their facilities once their county has moved to the yellow phase of reopening, which is expected to take place in Philadelphia on June 5, barring any setbacks. 

Additionally, teams can only return to their facilities once their league has developed a safety plan and has had said plan approved by the Pennsylvania Department of Health. Here's more from Wolf:

Professional Sports Guidance

The Wolf Administration has worked with Pennsylvania’s professional sports teams to develop guidance that allows for competition to resume.

Professional sports, defined as any sporting event at which the participants are paid by a league or team, or at which individuals or teams receive prizes or purse, are allowed to practice or play in the yellow and green phases of reopening without on-site or venue spectators if the team (or league on behalf of the team) has developed a COVID-19 safety plan.

Such a plan must be approved by the Pennsylvania Department of Health and include, among other requirements, testing or screening and monitoring of all on-venue players and personnel. Also, no fans or spectators may be permitted on interior or exterior venue property. Professional sports organizations are encouraged to contact the Wolf Administration to share their reopening plans and get them approved by the Department of Health.  [governor.pa.gov]

Since both the Sixers and Flyers practice in New Jersey, Tuesday was the bigger news for those two teams. But the announcement from Wolf is a welcome one for the Eagles, who could soon open the doors at the NovaCare Complex to allow players to work out, and the Phillies, who reportedly plan on using Citizens Bank Park as the site for their training camp, whenever baseball figures out their ongoing money dispute between the owners and union. 

When actual games could return remains largely up to the individual leagues, with the NHL unveiling their Return to Play plan on Tuesday and setting their sites on a late-July/early-August start to their playoffs. The NBA, meanwhile, is a little behind the NHL, as the league is still formulating how they'll return to play and what that might look like. 

Baseball's labor strife has put them in the worst position of the four major leagues, while the NFL remains the least impacted of the leagues in terms of what they've had to cancel. The league reportedly hopes to get some minicamps underway in next month. 

But no matter where the individual leagues stand with their return to play proposals, this is good news for those hoping to see their favorite teams back in action this summer.


MORE: Eytan Shander: Are we headed for full stadiums this fall — and is that a good thing?


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