Tighter restrictions handed down Friday by Virginia’s governor won’t impact the start of high school sports, according to state officials.

It was Friday afternoon that Ralph Northam announced a 25-person limit on gatherings — among other restrictions — due to the nationwide increase in cases of the coronavirus. Northam said while cases in Virginia are not rising as rapidly in some parts of the country, he was taking a proactive approach to prevent such a surge here.

When the restrictions were first announced — via an email news release and YouTube video — it stopped a lot of high school sports teams in their tracks.

With the 250-person limit now reduced to 25, many felt this could affect the start of the Virginia High School League winter sports season.

Officials were soon to clarify the 25-person limit would only be applied to spectators at a sporting event, not participants.

“We want to make it very clear that the governor’s order in the reduction for public and private gatherings to 25 individuals applies to spectators and not participants at those events,” VHSL Executive Director Dr. John W. “Billy” Haun said in a statement. “Nothing in the order prevents VHSL member schools from holding contests.”

The VHSL is expected to provide more details Monday.

The new restrictions come as Halifax County High School looks to move forward with a plan to begin winter sports on Dec. 7. Boys and girls basketball and wrestling teams have started conditioning and football players will meet for the first time on Monday to begin conditioning under new head coach Rob Senseney.

However, the Halifax County School Board is expected to ultimately decide the fate of high school sports in a meeting Monday night. The board previously voted not to bring students back for in-person learning until at least next semester.

The restrictions for the gatherings do not apply to schools, churches, private offices, gyms and businesses as well as recreational, youth and high school sports. All of the sports restrictions are for spectators and not participants.

The governor also updated the state’s mask regulation. It now mandates that all Virginians ages 5 and older wear face coverings in indoor public spaces. The previous ruling required ages 10 and up to wear face coverings.

Johnathan Kirland is a sports writer for The Gazette-Virginian. Contact him jkirkland@gazettevirginian.com. Follow him on Twitter @JohnathanK_GV