Proof of vaccination required for those 12 and older entering rec facilities

·3 min read

Anyone aged 12 and older who wants to enter an indoor sport and recreational fitness facility in Chatham-Kent will now be required to show proof of vaccination against COVID-19.

Chatham-Kent Public Health said the new and tougher local requirement goes above and beyond what’s in the Reopening Ontario Act and includes not only players but coaches, referees, volunteers, and spectators (aged 12 and over) of organized sporting events.

“Requiring and verifying proof of vaccination for all people 12 years of age and older accessing indoor facilities used for sport and recreational fitness activities can greatly reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19 and improve protection from COVID-19, limiting the spread in Chatham-Kent,” said Dr. David Colby, Chatham-Kent’s Medical Officer of Health.

As it stands, the Reopening Ontario Act only requires proof of vaccination and identification for all those 18 years of age and older who actively participate in organized sports or recreational fitness programs.

Effective October 31, all those required must show identification and proof of having at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

As of November 30, all eligible individuals aged 12 and over will be required to show identification and proof of full vaccination. This means you are required to have two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine plus 14 days following the second dose.

“Across Ontario, sports activities have been associated with a number of outbreaks, and we want to make sure that doesn’t happen,” said Colby. Almost all health units in Ontario have issued similar letters of instruction to plug the holes in the provincial guidance.”

Colby said this is very similar to Windsor’s letter of instruction. He added it was developed in conjunction with Sarnia-Lambton.

“Activities related to organized sports, particularly contact sports and high-intensity fitness and recreation, put participants at greater risk for COVID-19 transmission due to heavy breathing, close contact and length of contact and lack of personal protective equipment (e.g. mask use),” Colby stated.

The Lambton Kent and St. Clair Catholic district school boards issued a joint letter last week to advise parents and specify that schools will follow the direction of the medical officers of health for the two regions.

As a result, both the Lambton-Kent and St. Clair Catholic District School boards now require all coaches and student-athletes 12 and older involved in indoor sports to be partially vaccinated by October 31 and fully vaccinated by November 30, unless they have a valid medical exemption.

Spectators 12 and older at indoor school sports activities already had to be fully vaccinated.

According to Lambton-Kent director of education John Howitt, it’s unknown exactly how many students will be affected by the vaccine requirement.

“It will vary from region to region and team to team,” said Howitt. “A significant number of student-athletes participate in community athletics and are already required to be vaccinated for that.”

Colby also reminds people that there are set fines for failing to comply with the order. Set fines under Part 1 of the Provincial Offences Act (POA) is $750 for individuals and $1,000 for corporations. Maximum penalties based on prosecution under Part I or Part II of the POA includes fines of up to $100,000 and up to one year in jail for an individual; up to $500,000 and up to one year in jail for an individual who is a director or officer of a corporation; and up to $10 million for a corporation.

Bird Bouchard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Ridgetown Independent News

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