Some fans will be allowed after all at indoor Minnesota high school athletics events, but you won't be able to just walk up to the gym or arena and get a ticket.
Each team at remaining indoor events this fall will be allowed up to two mask-wearing spectators per participant, according to information released Thursday morning by the Minnesota State High School League.
The new guidelines come on opening day of the volleyball season and with girls' swimming reaching the end of its regular season next week. They also apply to fast-approaching indoor winter sports and activities, including basketball, hockey, wrestling, gymnastics, boys' swimming and dance team.
The league's guidelines apply to all indoor sports, concerts, plays, competitions, performances, and any other similar events that have spectators. The guidance is specific to events that take place in a school building or facility where instruction takes place.
Schools have the option of implementing stricter guidelines.
In addition to wearing masks, spectators must be separated by at least 6 feet between household or spectator groups, not to exceed 25% of the event space's capacity. No venue may exceed 250 spectators.
Walk-up ticket sales will not be allowed. School districts and charter schools must require advanced reservations and/or ticketing (electronic or will call). The gathering of names, phone numbers and/or e-mail addresses must be collected as part of the reservation so that quick notification can be done if an individual develops COVID-19.
The changes stem from updated guidance from the Minnesota Department of Education as volleyball resumes amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Previously the high school league had said fans would not be allowed at indoor sports events.
With respect to the short notice of the announcement, league executive director Erich Martens offered his sympathies to activities directors around the state tasked with making the new plans work.
"This doesn't make anyone's job easier," Martens said during a virtual league meeting Thursday morning. "Take the time you need as a school to get things in place."
Martens also said, via news release, "School-based activities and athletics are an incredible experience for our students, and we are excited that a limited number of family members will now be able to share in the experience of indoor activities, games and contests."
The action comes after a legal challenge was filed Monday against the high school league, asserting on behalf of four high school athletes that the league engaged in "arbitrary and unlawful decision-making" in prohibiting fans at indoor venues and allowing no more than 250 people at outside events.
The suit claimed that the league failed to take into account recent Minnesota Department of Health guidance on fan limits.
A high school league spokesman declined to comment, saying the league does not comment on pending litigation.