Playing sports in N.W.T. this winter? Most groups are requiring vaccination

·4 min read
Lyric Sandhals, executive director for the NWT Soccer Association, says she's waiting for approval from public health for larger gatherings. The association is requiring 'certain individuals' to be fully vaccinated. (CBC - image credit)
Lyric Sandhals, executive director for the NWT Soccer Association, says she's waiting for approval from public health for larger gatherings. The association is requiring 'certain individuals' to be fully vaccinated. (CBC - image credit)

If you're planning to play on a Northwest Territories sports team this winter, you could be required to show proof you've been fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

Numerous N.W.T. sports groups told CBC News they've started the process to require that proof from their players, coaches and referees.

On Friday, the territory officially introduced a voluntary proof-of-vaccine system and new restrictions on gatherings. People across the territory are allowed to gather in groups of up to 25 people indoors and up to 50 people outdoors if everyone is fully vaccinated, or is under the age of 12. This does not apply, however, to Behchokǫ, Kátł'odeeche First Nation and Hay River, where separate public health orders are currently in effect.

Businesses, organizations and event co-ordinators that want larger gatherings can apply for it, but will need to demand proof from eligible participants that they've had both their shots.

Soccer

The Northwest Territories Soccer Association — also known as NWT Soccer — notified its members on Oct. 21 it had put in an application for higher gathering limits. The club will be requiring "certain individuals" to be fully vaccinated in order to participate in sanctioned soccer activities, according to that notice.

The club plans to publish a vaccine policy this week with more details on that.

Lyric Sandhals, the association's executive director, said in an email Friday the organization was waiting for its application to be approved by the territorial government, and no one would be able to play until that happens.

"There is no sanctioned activity until approvals are completed," she said.

Curling

In a post to Facebook on Saturday, the Yellowknife Curling Club said its application to have larger gatherings indoors had been approved.

On Friday, the club said that its board had agreed unanimously to require proof of vaccination credentials from everyone over the age of 12 who uses the facility. That requirement began on Saturday.

Hockey

Charles Wyman, the president of the YK Rec League, said in an email on Oct. 21 that the Office of the Chief Public Health Officer (OCPHO) was considering an application to let the league have up to 50 players on ice.

"In order to play with full rosters, on-and off-ice officials with no modifications to the rules of hockey, this was our only option," Wyman wrote.

"We consulted our members and the majority were in favour of the application to the OCPHO, understanding that anyone that does not remain fully vaccinated would not be permitted to join one of our member hockey clubs for the 2021/22 season."

The proof-of-vaccine rule is extending to some minor hockey organizations as well.

Tony Jones, president of the Fort Smith Minor Hockey Association, notified his members Oct. 21 that everyone over the age of 12 would need to show proof of vaccination in order to participate in any minor hockey activities.

Jones said the association would share more details on how that would work in the coming days.

CBC News also reached out to Hockey NWT, which said it is "considering all (its) options" with regard to proof of vaccination.

Avery Zingel/CBC
Avery Zingel/CBC

Volleyball

Terrel Hobbs, the president of the YK Volleyball Association, confirmed in an email the association plans to require proof of vaccines.

"The association feels that fully vaccinated members (are) one of the best ways to protect the health and safety of the members," Hobbs wrote.

"We are still waiting to hear what plans the GNWT [Government of the Northwest Territories] has to quickly validate documentation [that] is provided."

Basketball

Damien Healy, president of Basketball NWT, told CBC News its board of directors had already approved a vaccine requirement for all basketball activities in the territory.

"Players, coaches, volunteers, officials and staff eligible for the vaccine must be fully vaccinated to participate in sanctioned basketball activities," Healy wrote in an email.

Healy said the club is currently working on a vaccine policy. The vaccine requirement will come into effect when that policy is approved by the board.

Healy added the organization is looking forward to seeing whether municipalities bring in their own policies and regulations for recreational facilities to permit entry only to fully vaccinated people.

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