Due to the sharp uptick in COVID-19 cases in Alabama, the Alabama High School Athletic Association is mandating a capacity limit for basketball games in the state.

Beginning immediately, every indoor sport must be at 20% of usual occupancy. Previously, the AHSAA left capacity guidelines up to each school district, as long as spectators remained 6 feet apart from people of another household.

However, the AHSAA released a new list of COVID-19 guidelines Monday, with the first on the list saying “For indoor sports, to help facilitate social distancing, and to reduce the potential exposure to COVID-19 by large numbers of people, the total number of spectators be limited to less than 20% of usual occupancy.”

Other guidelines include:

• In any sport where there is hand to hand contact, or hand contact with a shared object such as a ball, players and officials should sanitize their hands each time they enter and leave the court or area of active play.

• Hosting schools should make a public announcement at the beginning of each game, and during intermissions, reminding all spectators to maintain at least 6 feet of distance between themselves and persons not in their household, and to keep their face coverings or masks on at all times while in the athletic venue.

• For sports tournaments involving multiple teams and games, schools must schedule and organize the events such that mingling of spectators with teams not actively engaged in competition is avoided.

• Coaches should encourage players, their families, and their coaches to refrain from organizing non-sport related social activities which increase the risk for transmission and may jeopardize sport participation.

• If a sporting event participant or official is diagnosed with COVID-19 within two days after an event, the opposite team and officials must be contacted to determine the need for quarantine among individuals in that group.

The Alabama Department of Public Health also requested the athletic association encourage and empower sporting event officials to delay the start of an event or suspend competition whenever spectators are not complying with social distancing guidelines or proper wearing of face coverings or masks.

AHSAA Executive Director Steve Savarese said each of the guidelines laid out in Monday's release was recommended by State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris.

As of Monday, Alabama had more than 298,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases, with more than 4,100 deaths from the virus.

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