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AAHA Guidance on PA Universal Face Coverings

By AAHA, 11/29/20, 10:00AM EST


AAHA Guidance on Pennsylvania Universal Face Coverings Order

November 28, 2020

­On November 17, 2020 the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania (PA) issued an order1, through its Department of Health (DOH) requiring “Universal Face Covering”, essentially requiring persons inside the State to wear face coverings at all times, with few exceptions, as stated in the order and related Frequently Asked Questions2 (FAQ) . On November 20, 2020, the DOH updated the order and FAQ to provide better guidance to youth sports.

The purpose of this statement is to provide proper guidance to USA Hockey participants, Clubs and teams who are participating in authorized USA Hockey activities in Pennsylvania.

  1. We strongly encourage parents/guardians of registered USA Hockey players, along with all coaches, officials and administrators read the Universal Face Covering order and FAQ. The links are provided below.
  2. The PA DOH order clearly requires all persons to wear a mask at all times, including, during competition. The AAHA deems that to mean parents, players, coaches, officials and persons associated with the conducting of an ice hockey game or practice are required to wear a mask.
  3. The DOH of provides the following exception from the universal face covering requirement which is applicable to certain sports.

(Section 3 – 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.”  A player can remove his or her face covering at the start competition if either of the following conditions apply:

a. the player while wearing a face covering together with a mouth guard and/or a helmet encounters difficulty breathing during competition. (the player can remove the mask on his/her own after experiencing the difficulty breathing.); OR

b. the player has a pre-existing medical condition, such as asthma, that his or her doctor says makes breathing difficult or another medical condition that requires the player be exempted from wearing a face covering during competition.   

  1. DOH Guidance also indicates (from FAQ) “When a customer or visitor claims to be exempt due to a medical or mental health condition or disability, businesses may not require proof of the condition or disability or require customers or visitors to explain the nature of their condition.”
  2. The DOH also indicates “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.” Pursuant to USA Hockey playing rules, the helmet and facemask worn by players shall be approved by the Hockey Equipment Certification Council (HECC) and modifications are not permitted. The AAHA recognizes that certain equipment manufactures may offer a newly designed face shield or modification for the polymer face shield, however, HECC certification should not be assumed.
  3. The AAHA strongly recommends the wearing face coverings by all athletes during competition unless a medical condition or issue precludes the athlete from doing so.
  4. Questions regarding this policy shall be directed to your Club President.