(File Photo)

British Columbians may have to hang up their skates until next season, as Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced new restrictions surrounding adult team sports on Wednesday due to the continued rise in COVID-19 cases.

The new ban on indoor adult sports includes basketball, cheerleading, combat sports, floor hockey, floor ringette, road hockey, ice hockey, ringette, martial arts, netball, team skating, soccer, volleyball, bowling, lawn bowling, curling, lacrosse, rugby, football, baseball and softball.

“We continue to see that indoor group activities — whether for fitness or team sports — are much higher risk right now. The details of sports activities have been added to the order on events and gatherings,” said Henry in the written statement.

Kids’ sports programs will also have to return to more restrictive measures, including keeping a distance of two metres from other people, sticking to small groups, no spectators, modified games and no travel.

These rules have been pushed back from phase three to phase two of ViaSport’s Return to Sport guidelines.

The announcement followed news that an old timers’ hockey team from the Interior Health region recently traveled to Alberta for games, in defiance of a public health order.

According to Henry, some of team members returned to BC testing positive with COVID-19, then exposed their family members and co-workers, leading to “several dozen” new cases in the community.

The Provincial Health Officer reiterated that these activities are too dangerous when the province’s COVID-19 cases are continuing to surge; BC reported 834 new cases and 12 deaths due to the virus Wednesday.

Henry also expanded the list of indoor group fitness activities that are now considered high risk and high intensity.

Aerobics, boot camps, dance classes, dance fitness and circuit training are now prohibited, along with hot yoga, spin classes and high-intensity interval training.

Until new safety guidelines are released next week, lower intensity activities like yoga, pilates, tai chi and individual fitness are also suspended.

“We know the restrictions put an added burden on what is an already difficult time for all of us, but they are what is required right now,” said Henry.

“Despite the fatigue, let’s stand strong against this virus. We are asking everyone in BC to please do a bit more right now and help everyone to see us through to the light ahead.

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