PSC: 5-on-5 basketball allowed only under 'new normal'

Playing 5-on-5 basketball will only be allowed once every level of quarantine has been lifted, according to the guidelines recently released by the Philippine Sports Institute Medical Scientific and Athletic Services (PSI-MSAS).

The PSI-MSAS, which is under the Philippine Sports Commission, coordinated with the Department of Health and the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases to come up with the "Framework Tool for Reintroducing Sport in a COVID-19 Environment".

"This national framework for reintroducing recreational and competitive sport will just be 'reacting' with the dynamic evolution of the COVID-19 disease process and in accordance with established norms and advisories of the national government," it said in the framework. "The priority at all times is to preserve public health, without straining our health care system unnecessarily from sports related medical consults and at the same time minimize the risk of community transmission of COVID-19."

Under the "new normal," every kind of sport will be allowed. The "new normal" shall only be observed when COVID-19 has been eradicated in a particular area, if treatment for the disease is readily available, or if scientists have developed a vaccine.

Currently, the country is placed under a national quarantine with varying degrees in different areas.

For example, in the National Capital Region and several provinces and cities in Regions III and IV-A that are placed under a modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) until May 31, the matrix will only allow an individual to do ball or skill drills in front of their respective households in an enclosed public street.

However, if the region gets downgraded again to the ECQ due to a continuing number of rising cases, a person may only do such things indoors, or in a court located within their premises. Cebu City and Mandaue City in the province of Cebu are currently under the ECQ.

Under MECQ, outdoor fitness activities such as jogging and biking shall now be considered as essential travel, while public outdoor fitness and sports facilities will now be opened under the general community quarantine (GCQ). Sports now allowed in MECQ areas include running, badminton, kata events in karate, and open water swimming.

In parts of the country which are under GCQ, only one person will be allowed to use public basketball courts, but there will be no person-to-person interaction and sharing of equipment such as a basketball. Eight-lane swimming will now also be allowed as long as there is no interaction in the shower or changing rooms.

For the case of a modified general community quarantine (MGCQ), multiple persons will be allowed to participate in non-contact drills like passing, agility, and ball skills, but social distancing must still be observed. Contact with one another, like a scrimmage, is still strictly prohibited.

Public indoor and commercial sports facilities will now also be opened for use. Gyms should only allow individual workouts using their own equipment.

For fight sports, sparring will only be allowed between a person and equipment such as speed and heavy bags only.

When the country lifts its restrictions under the new normal, the matrix requires individuals to undergo a reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test to determine if a person has the SARS-COV-2 virus, which causes COVID-19.