In the interest of public health, the city of Allentown is closing all city-owned and maintained sports fields until further notice. No field permit applications are being accepted.
The decision follows yesterday’s joint recommendation from the Pennsylvania Department of Health and Department of Education that Pre-K–12 school and recreational youth sports be postponed until at least January 1, 2021, to protect children and teens from COVID-19.
According to Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf, “The guidance is that we ought to avoid any congregate settings. And that means anything that brings people together is going to help that virus get us and we ought to do everything we can to defeat that virus.”
The recommendation to pause youth sports until January 1, 2021 covers team and individual, school and non-school recreational youth sports.
“We have had to make some very difficult decisions regarding our swimming pools, playgrounds, fields and courts, but they are based on keeping public health a higher priority,” said Mayor Ray O’Connell. “I love athletics as much as anyone, but face masks and social distancing are two of our primary defenses against this virus. They are tough to achieve on the playing field.”
The city will issue refunds where appropriate.
Just last week the Allentown Board of Education voted unanimously to begin the school year virtually because of the pandemic, keeping 17,000 students out of classrooms. Some 60% of parents surveyed said they were not comfortable sending their children back to school. Governor Wolf had closed schools in March to try to halt the spread of the deadly virus.