Stricter proof of vaccination required in CK for indoor sports & rec facilities

File photo courtesy of © Can Stock Photo / Modestil

Proof of vaccination against COVID-19 will be mandatory for anyone aged 12 and older who wants to enter an indoor sports and recreational fitness facility in Chatham-Kent.

Chatham-Kent Public Health said the new and tougher local requirement is over and above 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. Currently, 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.

Chatham-Kent Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Colby said effective October 31, 2021, all those required must show identification and proof of having at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. As of November 30, 2021 all eligible individuals aged 12 and over will be required to show identification and proof of full vaccination, which is two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine plus 14 days following the second dose.

“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, length of contact and lack of personal protective equipment (face covering/mask). That risk increases significantly when activities take place indoors,” read a statement issued by the public health unit on Tuesday afternoon.

The health unit has issued an instruction letter to the owners and operators of facilities used for sports and recreational fitness activities in Chatham-Kent.

Colby is asking owners and operators to minimize pre-game and post-game or practice activities and gathering time by arriving immediately before the beginning of an activity and leaving immediately after the activity.

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.

A fourth wave of COVID-19 continues in Ontario and Chatham-Kent continues to have one of the highest rates of cases and one of the highest positivity rates in the province. The public health unit noted the risk of a COVID-19 infection in Chatham-Kent is 15 times higher for people that are unvaccinated, and unvaccinated people over 60 years of age are 30 times more likely to be hospitalized than vaccinated people.

“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,” wrote Dr. Colby in the letter.

Anyone looking to schedule a COVID-19 vaccination for themselves or their child born in 2009 or after can do so at www.GetYourShotCK.ca or by calling 519-351-1010. For a full list of vaccination options including pop-up clinics, mobile outreach clinics and administering pharmacy locations, please visit www.CKPublicHealth.com/Clinics.