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SMDHU increases health measures at sport and recreational facilities

·2 min read

In an effort to contain the highly contagious COVID-19 Delta variant, the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit is issuing a letter of instruction to owners, operators, and persons responsible for any indoor facilities used for sports and recreational activities in the County of Simcoe, as well as the District of Muskoka and the cities of Orillia and Barrie.

In a statement issued on October 14, the Health Unit said effective, November 25, 2021, owners, operators, and persons responsible for facilities or any premise used for sports and recreation will be required to ensure that each individual, age 12 and over, must provide proof of full vaccination as well as photo ID.

This includes people who are coaching, teaching, instructing, officiating, and volunteering at events.

Persons who cannot provide proof of vaccination can provide a valid medical exemption.

Most facilities in New Tecumseth are already asking people for proof of vaccination if they attend games or events at town facilities like arenas or fitness centres.

Other sports private sports related facilities in town are also asking for proof of vaccination before allowing people to enter.

This new directive expands the program to ensure owners of private facilities will be part of the screening process.

“Sport and recreational fitness activities provide physical and mental health benefits to participants. However, many of these activities are high-intensity and involve heavy breathing, prolonged close contact and lack of masks for source control, putting individuals at greater risk for COVID-19 transmission,” said Dr. Charles Gardner, Medical Officer of Health. “Volunteers, coaches and officials frequently have close and prolonged contact with participants including youth and children, some of whom are unvaccinated. Requiring individuals in these roles who are 12 years of age and older to provide proof of vaccination when accessing indoor facilities used for sport and fitness activities can greatly reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission, thus improving protection and limiting the spread.”

The rules do not apply to outdoor activities or venues. The SMDHU is one of several public health units in the province that have decided to apply these directives to their respective region.

Brian Lockhart, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, New Tecumseth Times

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