Pitt And Virginia Tech To Wear Masks On Field (www.health.pa.gov)

Players for both Pitt and Virginia Tech will be wearing masks on the field when the two teams play at Pitt on Saturday.

The state of Pennsylvania issued

earlier in the week that requires face coverings for anyone outdoors if social distancing is unable to be maintained. And Pitt said Friday that both schools would comply with the order on the sidelines and during play.

“In alignment with the recent guidance from state officials regarding the current health climate, Pitt’s football team will be appropriately outfitted for Saturday’s game with face coverings to use on the field and sideline,” the school said in a statement. “This is being communicated to Virginia Tech’s sports medicine staff as well.”

Pitt’s compliance with the order is a direct contrast to the Pittsburgh Steelers. While both teams play their home games at Heinz Field, they have differing views on the interpretation of the mandate. The Steelers are claiming to be exempt from the statewide order. The state of Pennsylvania disagrees and a spokesperson said Thursday that “the administration did not grant an exemption.”

Penn State believes it is exempt as well. The Nittany Lions host Iowa on Saturday.

Steelers claiming Section 3 exemption

The Steelers said Thursday that the team is exempt from the statewide rule because of a clause in Section 3. Here’s the entirety of Section 3. There is no reference to “competition” in the entirety of the order, so it’s unclear what exemption Penn State is referring to.

The following are exceptions to the face covering requirements in Section 2. 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.

A. If wearing a face covering while working would create an unsafe condition in which to operate equipment or execute a task as determined by local, state, or federal regulators or workplace safety guidelines.

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.

C. When necessary to confirm the individual’s identity.

D. While obtaining a service that requires the temporary removal of the face covering, such as dental services.

E. When working alone and isolated from interaction with other people with little or no expectation of in-person interaction.

F. If an individual is communicating or seeking to communicate with someone who is hearing-impaired or has another disability, where the ability to see the mouth is essential for communication.

It’s very hard to see how the Steelers can claim an exemption in any of those sections. While the team could say that face coverings would impact players’ breathing, the NFL told teams this week that players must wear face coverings while at practice. It’s hard to argue that you can’t wear a face covering during a game in defiance of state orders but you can wear one at practice in accordance with NFL orders.

The Steelers are on the road on Sunday in Jacksonville before playing the Baltimore Ravens at home on Thanksgiving night. Maybe they’re claiming an exemption now with the hope of getting something figured out in the next week.

Pitt, meanwhile, doesn’t have that luxury. And unlike their professional counterparts, the Panthers are going along with what’s being asked of them.

DETROIT, MI - DECEMBER 26:  A general view of Pitt helmets is seen during the Quick Lane Bowl game between the Pitt Panthers and the Eastern Michigan Eagles on December 26, 2019 at Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan.  (Photo by Scott W. Grau/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Pitt and Virginia Tech players will be wearing masks on the field on Saturday. (Photo by Scott W. Grau/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

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