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New COVID-19 Provincial Health Order restrictions hit minor sports the hardest

Timothy Schafer Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
By Timothy Schafer Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
October 29th, 2021

The noose has been tightened yet again as the province has increased restrictions on what unvaccinated families are able to do in order to boost the rates across the province and the Interior Health region.

According to a new Provincial Health Order regarding COVID-19 restrictions announced Wednesday, an adult must now have received two doses of vaccine if the adult is “leading, supervising or assisting with a program for children or youth, whether the program takes place inside or outside.”

As well, an adult who had not received two doses of vaccine must not “lead, supervise or assist with a program for children or youth, whether the program takes place inside or outside.”

The new restrictions hit minor sports the hardest, with organizations like Nelson Minor Hockey Association (NMHA), CanSkate and Nelson Soccer Association having to scramble to re-draft their COVID protocols and screen their volunteers.

In some cases, such as for NMHA — who have been operating with some unvaccinated coaches, on-ice assistants and team managers — the new announcement will leave them short staffed for people to help coach and instruct the young players.

The new health order goes contrary to what most coaches and volunteers have been told for weeks, that vaccinations will not be a requirement of adult supervisors of sport.

People will now have to disclose personal health information to their sport organizing body in order to continue as a volunteer.

“Unvaccinated volunteers will not be removed from the rosters, but will not be able to participate in the delivery of programming until such time that this new requirement is lifted by the province,” read a NMHA missive to its membership.

 Second time is the charm

The main points of the new Provincial Health Order:

  • all adult supervisors of youth sport will now require proof of vaccination, including: coaches, managers, safety people, on-ice/field helpers and officials, as well as all volunteers; and
  • all indoor sport spectators that are 12 years of age and over, even for events with fewer than 50 people in attendance, will now require proof of vaccination.
  • As well, all volunteers 22 years of age and older and any spectators 12 years of age and older will have to show their vaccine passports to get into the facilities at all times for practices and games. 

In delivering the new restrictions, Dr. Bonnie Henry felt the risk was too great to not enforce further vaccinations.

“I have reason to believe and do believe that the continued presence of large numbers of unvaccinated people in the population, particularly in some age groups and some communities where vaccination rates continue to be low, continues to pose a risk to the health of the population, and constitutes a health hazard,” she wrote in the latest order.

“This is because unvaccinated people can be the source of viral transmission to other unvaccinated people, and also to vaccinated people who are not completely immune consequent to their vaccination, either because of a reduced immune response or only having had one dose of vaccine. These infections can result in serious illness, hospitalization, intensive care unit admission for care and death.”

  • Link to the provincial document:

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