BEA AHBECK/NEWS-SENTINEL The picnic area at the Youth area at Lodi Lake in Lodi Thurs. Feb, 25, 2021.

As San Joaquin County inches closer to the red tier of the state’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy, local recreation and youth sports agencies are preparing for a return to parks and fields.

Lodi Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services announced Thursday that it will resume taking reservations for outdoor picnic shelter rentals at seven of its parks on March 1.

According to a statement released Wednesday, amenities with the picnic shelters include restrooms, built-in barbecues and playgrounds.

Parks have been open while the county has been in the purple tier, but team sports such as baseball, basketball, football and soccer have not been permitted.

Outdoor gatherings have been allowed, but with a maximum of three households — or 25 people — and for as many as two hours.

Masks and physical distancing will still apply when the park rentals are resumed, staff said.

Shelter rentals will be available at all five areas of Lodi Lake, as well as at Emerson, Legion, Katzakian, Peterson, Salas and Villa Fiore parks.

To make reservations, visit www.lodi.gov/ 669/Rentals or call 209-333-6742.

Cathi DeGroot, deputy parks director, said more reopenings and easing of restrictions will be announced as the county moves into the red, orange and yellow tiers.

“Plans are in place to open as much as we can,” she said. “Staff is working feverishly to implement things under the guidelines set forth by the state, and working to resume programs and services that are allowed under the red tier.”

To advance to the red tier, the county’s new COVID-19 case rate must be less than 7 new cases per 100,000 residents, and its test positivity and health equity rates must be less than 8%.

As of Tuesday’s tier assignments from the California Department of Public Health, the county’s new case rate is 17.1 per 100,000 residents. Its positivity and health equity rates were 6.6% and 8.7%, respectively.

In addition, PRCS announced on its Facebook page this week that it is working to reschedule concerts at Hutchins Street Square when the state allows indoor performances.

“It looks like all indoor venues will pretty much remain closed throughout 2021,” DeGroot said. “But we’re hoping to reinstate concerts in 2022, so we’re reaching out to many of the acts we had planned for last year. They have told us they want to come to Lodi and perform.”

Those acts include John Waite, Femmes of Rock and the Steep Canyon Rangers, she said.

According to the Blueprint for a Safer Economy, concerts will not be permitted until a county is in the yellow and least restrictive tier.

“We would love our residents to know we are working as fast as we can to understand and digest the guidelines coming from the state,” DeGroot said. “They can change on a daily basis, and we’re trying to work quickly so we can get all of our programs reinstated.”

Low-contact sports such as cross country and track, tennis and golf are currently permitted under purple tier guidelines. But when the county advances to the red tier, moderate-contact sports such as baseball and softball will be able to resume play.

The Lodi Boosters for Boys and Girls Sports are already preparing for a return to the field, announcing on Facebook this week that registrations are now being accepted.

Boosters president Kurt Anderson said several hundred local youths have already registered for the spring season, which is more than he was expecting.

The organization’s board of directors has received several questions from players, parents and coaches about how guidelines will be implemented, and Anderson said it will take patience and flexibility to adapt to the changes.

“Our priority is to have a safe season for the kids,” he said. “We also want to make this the best experience we can for players, coaches, and parents. We will do everything we can to get our parents as close to the fields as guidelines will allow.”

According to guidance for youth sports, masks will be required for all those not playing in the game, including coaches, support staff and observers, at all times.

Spectators must also maintain at least six feet from non-household members, and must be limited to only those in an immediate household of players.

Masks must be worn during games and practices, and physical distancing must be followed as much as possible.

Anderson said the guidelines are acceptable to the board, as the main goal is to get youngsters out on the field to play and have a good time again.

“The board hasn’t stopped planning for a year,” he said. “We’ve been making plans for a new, and different season, from the very start (of the pandemic). We’re just happy to get as many kids as we can out there. It’s going to be different, but we’ll make it work as best we can.”

Opening day for the BOBS baseball and softball seasons is currently scheduled for May 8.

To register for the season, visit www.teamsideline.com/lodibobs.

San Joaquin County is one of 47 counties that remain in the purple tier this week. Del Norte, Humboldt, Trinity, Shasta, Yolo, Marin, San Mateo and Mariposa are all in the red tier.

Only Alpine and Sierra counties have been promoted to the orange tier. There are no counties in the yellow tier yet.

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