Players for both Pitt and Virginia Tech will be wearing masks on the field when the two teams play at Pitt on Saturday. Sort of.
The state of Pennsylvania issued a statewide mask mandate earlier in the week that requires face coverings for anyone outdoors if social distancing is unable to be maintained. And Pitt said Friday that both schools would comply with the order on the sidelines and during play.
“In alignment with the recent guidance from state officials regarding the current health climate, Pitt’s football team will be appropriately outfitted for Saturday’s game with face coverings to use on the field and sideline,” the school said in a statement. “This is being communicated to Virginia Tech’s sports medicine staff as well.”
Hours after Pitt issued that statement, the school said that players would wear their face coverings on the field but wouldn’t have to have them over their faces during plays after the state issued a clarification on the mask mandate.
Here’s further clarification, I suppose. pic.twitter.com/p30lCeHKxV
— Chris Peak (@PantherLair) November 20, 2020
Penn State previously said that it was exempt from the mask mandate and that its players would not be wearing masks on the field.
Penn State says it is exempt from the governor’s order on face coverings during competition because of Big Ten testing protocols. pic.twitter.com/gPI0CE2q09
— Ralph D. Russo (@ralphDrussoAP) November 20, 2020
Steelers claimed Section 3 exemption
Here’s how the confusion started. After the mask mandate was issued earlier in the week, the Steelers said they would be exempt from the rule under the exemptions in Section 3. The state, meanwhile, said that no such exemption had been granted.
Pennsylvania reversed course on that refusal to grant an exemption on Friday, however.
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf's office issued new guidance regarding its mask mandate for sports, specifically saying that football players wearing masks during games "would likely create a medical issue” and thus they’re exempt. All clear for #Steelers, #Eagles games. pic.twitter.com/qhcZEm2S4Q
— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) November 20, 2020
This is the entirety of Section 3. The football exemption is covered in section B.
The following are exceptions to the face covering requirements in Section 2. All alternatives to wearing a face covering, including the use of a face shield, should be exhausted before an individual is excepted from this Order.
A. If wearing a face covering while working would create an unsafe condition in which to operate equipment or execute a task as determined by local, state, or federal regulators or workplace safety guidelines.
B. If wearing a face covering would either cause a medical condition, or exacerbate an existing one, including respiratory issues that impede breathing, a mental health condition or a disability.
C. When necessary to confirm the individual’s identity.
D. While obtaining a service that requires the temporary removal of the face covering, such as dental services.
E. When working alone and isolated from interaction with other people with little or no expectation of in-person interaction.
F. If an individual is communicating or seeking to communicate with someone who is hearing-impaired or has another disability, where the ability to see the mouth is essential for communication.
It’s worth noting that the NFL told teams this week that players must wear face coverings while at practice. So while the Steelers have to practice with face coverings, they don’t have to play with face coverings.
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