In an effort slow the spread of COVID-19 after an uptick of cases in BC, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced a host of new restrictions last week, which will be in effect until at least December 7th.
When it’s broken down simply, the new order aims to restrict social gatherings, encourage mask-wearing in all indoor spaces, and limit or pause activities where the virus is known to spread or cause outbreaks.
For at least the next two weeks, non-essential travel has also been ordered to be limited, which will not only affect many on a social level, but also applies to athletic activities.
Here’s what sports leagues, players, and families need to know:
No spectators at any sport activities
Under the current provincial order, no spectators are allowed at any sporting activities, whether they are held indoors or outdoors.
The only exception to this rule is for those that provide care to a participant or player, like first aid attendants.
Games, practices and competitions
Though we are still in viaSport’s Return to Sport Phase 3, the rules now include no spectators and no travel.
That being said, games, competitions and practices can continue within the above guidelines as long as they are restricted to each local community.
Some sports teams, such as PACE FC soccer which operates on the Saanich Peninsula in an outdoor-only model, have temporarily suspended all play for the next two weeks, saying they will extend their season to make up for the pause.
The Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League also announced Saturday that it would be postponing all games due to the newly announced regulations, at least until December 7th.
Individual leagues are asked to review their current COVID-19 safety plans to ensure they meet guidelines. Meanwhile viaSport is reviewing the guidance and working with public health to release an updated version of the rules.
For the time being, as a part of the order, masks are required in all indoor public settings.
Sports team travel between communities
As a part of the order, people should stay as much as possible within their local communities for at least the next two weeks.
To that end, travelling across health regions for the purposes of sports tournaments is currently suspended for the time being.
Dr. Bonnie Henry recently clarified that children or players who live in different communities, but play on the same team, can still continue to play together.
That being said, entire sports teams cannot travel to another jurisdiction to compete with other teams.
Other athletic activities
Certain high-risk indoor group physical activities must be suspended until at least December 7th, including:
- Spin classes
- Hot yoga
- High intensity interval training (HIIT)
According to an update on November 24, particular venues that offer other types of indoor group physical activities must suspend them temporarily, until new guidance is released. These include:
- Dance studios
- Martial arts
- Strength and conditioning
Gyms and recreation facilities that offer individual training can remain, as open as long as they have a COVID-19 Safety Plan that is strictly followed.
Henry has made it clear that public health will close down any studios where transmission events are detected.
Some specific gyms have implemented mandatory mask measures, but it’s best to check with your gym to see whether or not they require masks at all times.
Who’s exempt from these restrictions?
Anyone identified by the Canadian Sports Institute Pacific as a high performance athlete is excluded from the sport-related restrictions, as long as they are already training in BC.
With files from Brishti Basu.