Phil Scott

Gov. Phil Scott speaks during Friday's press conference updating the public on the state's response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

MONTPELIER — Gov. Phil Scott announced Friday a further loosening of COVID-19 pandemic restrictions on high school sports in Vermont.

Starting Monday, Jan. 18, the state will move into Phase 2 of sports recreation guidance, which allows teams to expand practices to include drills with limited contact and scrimmages. Scott said games and scrimmages between different teams is still not allowed, and masks must be worn at all times.

Outdoor individual sports, such as downhill skiing and cross-country skiing, will now be allowed in small groups. Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine noted that health experts haven’t seen any transmission of COVID-19 from the activity of skiing.

“We know how important these things are for our kids’ well-being, both for their physical and mental health,” Scott said. “Like with every decision we make, it will be based on the data and the advice of our experts.”

In the initial phase that started Dec. 26, schools and youth based sports were limited to individual skills and strength and conditioning, and all activities must be no-contact, socially distanced, and masked while participating.

There were no changes made to adult recreational leagues, and no spectators are allowed to attend any athletic events at this time.

“Since then we’ve seen no spread of the virus tied to these activities and spread within schools remain low,” Scott said of the period following the first phase.

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