Youth club San Diego Surf, for noncompliance with COVID-19 Industry Guidance: Youth and Adult Recreational Sports, was issued a cease and desist order by the County of San Diego, which in January 2021 suffered its worst month of COVID cases, ranks second in average total cases among California's 58 counties in the last seven days, and is at a very high risk level.

Read the entire letter HERE.

California has allowed youth soccer clubs to practice while adhering to guidelines such as "face coverings to be worn when not participating in the activity (e.g., on the sidelines)" but has not allowed games between different teams at the youth or high school levels. The cease and desist order, dated Feb. 17, cites Surf SC for holding inter-team competitions, and stated that failure to comply "may result in criminal misdemeanor citations with a $1,000 fine for each violation."

ABC 10News reported that a county spokesperson said that it has had "repeated discussions with Surf Cup Soccer about what is allowed." It also aired video of players not wearing masks as required by state ordinance, and as recommended by U.S. Soccer's guidelines while not physically active.

Surf Club Soccer responded to the cease and desist with a Feb. 17 letter in which it stated, "If your choice is to send an inspector daily to our fields, please simply let us know and we will get out our checkbook. ... We will continue to let these kids play."

On Feb. 19, California public health officials green-lighted regular competition for outdoor sports such as soccer, beginning Feb. 26, in counties with COVID-19 rates below 14 people per 100,000 residents. San Diego County's current rate is 22.2 cases per 100,000.

The New York Times reported on Friday that in San Diego County, "Cases are very high but have decreased over the past two weeks. The number of hospitalized Covid patients has also fallen in the San Diego County area, but I.C.U. occupancy is still very high. Deaths have decreased. The test positivity rate in San Diego County is high, suggesting that cases may be undercounted."

In June, U.S. Soccer released detailed Play On guidelines for various return-to-play phases to be introduced only when “local authorities have deemed it safe." In a July interview with Soccer America, Dr. George Chiampas, U.S. Soccer’s Chief Medical Officer, said "U.S. Soccer [is] not an organization that has that authority" to punish clubs that don't heed state or local regulations. In a November interview, Chiampas said, "You should obviously follow your state guidelines."