Jamestown Parks and Recreation Director Doug Hogan said local slow-pitch softball associations will be able to begin league competition by June 1, but cautioned play will be closely monitored.
"It's not back to normal," Hogan said. "It probably won't be all summer long, but hopefully everyone pays attention to the guidelines."
Hogan said local associations utilizing Parks and Rec facilities were responsible for submitting both national affiliation guidelines and procedures on how those practices will be safely implemented locally in order for play to begin during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Jamestown Men's Softball Association provided its plan, along with guidelines recommended by USA Softball, to Jamestown Parks and Rec on Monday.
Hogan said the Jamestown Men's Softball Association and the Jamestown Women's Slowpitch Softball Association have been approved to begin play. Men's slow-pitch is planning a June 1 start.
"It's gonna be different," said Gary Schmidt, Jamestown Men's Softball Association league representative. "We're all going to be playing by a new set of rules ... it's what we have to do to play."
Men's softball will compete Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays at Hillcrest Softball Complex, with start times being staggered at 6:50 p.m. and 7:10 p.m. Sanitizer will be located at all fields in use and restrooms will be cleaned before, after and between games.
Further guidelines call for a ban on sunflower seeds and chewing tobacco, as well as the elimination of post-game handshakes and loitering afterward will not be allowed. Fans will need to bring their own chairs as bleachers will not be made available for seating.
Teams will also be responsible for following already established social distancing guidelines produced by North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum's office as well as Jamestown Parks and Rec.
"We're going to be monitoring things and if we see people aren't paying attention, or aren't adhering to their guidelines, then we'll have to take stricter measures," Hogan said. "Hopefully it doesn't come to that."
Hogan also said play would most likely be halted if a local spike in COVID-19 cases were to occur.
"If that does happen we'll probably shut things back down again until things settle down a bit," Hogan said.
League competition for Jamestown men's slow-pitch softball began on May 6 in 2019. The association currently fields 24 local teams amounting to approximately 250-300 players.
"No sunflower seeds, no handshaking. (Face masks) are encouraged but not required," Schmidt said. "We just want to get on the field safely.
"There's going to be some people that aren't going to play and that's OK," Schmidt added. "You know (if) you're going out there your risk is higher, so if you don't feel comfortable don't show up."
Playgrounds, restrooms opening
Hogan said Parks and Rec is planning to open restrooms and playground equipment at local parks this Wednesday and Thursday.
He said crews will be spraying playground equipment and restrooms twice daily with disinfectant but is urging the public to take their own precautions.
"We certainly want the public to take their own sanitation wipes and sanitize play equipment and restrooms as well," Hogan said. "We don't like having to have our facilities shut down, and we're just glad that in some shape or form that people are going to be able to get out and do things and, hopefully, they're responsible."