Athletic Director Seeks Exemption From Allegheny County’s Coronavirus Order, But Officials Say Restrictions Apply To Sports

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Allegheny County says coronavirus restrictions apply to sports.

Allegheny County high schools were hoping the county would grant an exemption to allow them to kickoff in their home stadiums, but the county says the coronavirus order is in effect and it applies to sports.

The county’s order prohibits outdoor gatherings of more than 50 people. If the PIAA decides to hold fall sports, the gathering restriction in Allegheny County will still be in place.

In the rest of the state, outdoor gatherings are restricted to 250 people or less.

The North Allegheny athletic director told KDKA’s Paul Martino there’s no way to play high school football with the county’s 50 person limit.

“It’s a community event. It’s more than a sporting event. It’s more than football. It’s really where the communities come together. There’s a lot of pride — a lot of tradition,” says athletic director Bob Bozutto.

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Bozutto heads the Pennsylvania State Athletic Directors Association.

“Football and soccer and some of our outdoor sports are going to be extremely difficult. Taking a look at the numbers, especially in football, I don’t believe we can do it,” he says.

North Allegheny’s first scrimmage will be played in Erie. Their first game of the season is Sept. 11 against Seneca Valley. It’s supposed to be a home game, but they could move it to Seneca in Butler County. As for the rest of the season, they may be forced to find football stadiums outside of Allegheny County, but that won’t be easy.

Bozzuto is seeking an exemption from the county health department.

A statement from the county reads in part: “The Health Department’s limit on outdoor gatherings of 50 remains in place and applies to sports. It is intended to limit the spread of COVID-19 in our community. That is particularly true for groups of youth who are often asymptomatic while having the virus and may not realize that they are spreading it.”

The county health department says it’s looking at the WPIAL and PIAA’s protocols incorporated into health and safety plans that were reviewed and approved by the state earlier, and is working to make sure events meet COVID-19 guidelines in the county.

The PIAA is expected to make a decision on fall sports tomorrow. The PIAA put plans to play on pause after the governor strongly recommended postponing recreational and scholastic sports until 2021.

The county says it will provide more information about sports tomorrow.

Stay with KDKA for Paul Martino’s report at 6 p.m.