More organized sports activities and some competitive play is coming soon as the province moves into Phase 3 of its Return to Sport Guidelines.
viaSport, the organization working closely with the province to reintroduce organized sport amid the COVID-19 pandemic, released Phase 3 guidelines Monday, Aug. 24.
In it, the provincial not-for-profit outlines how various sports can be modified safely to increase training opportunities and adding league and gameplay all while abiding public health orders.
As sports move into the “Progressively Loosen” phase, the new guidelines touch on contact sports, cohorts, competitions, high-performance training environments and travel.
“Sport is an important part of mental and physical health for children, youth, families and our communities,” B.C.’s provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said.
“These guidelines will enable the social and emotional benefits of sport while ensuring the sports activities remain as safe as possible.”
Phase 3 guidelines promote minimizing close physical proximity. But for sports where a distance of fewer than two metres between players is maintained, the guidelines suggest modifying the rules to keep distance, limit the number and duration of contacts and enforce physical distancing off the field, such as in dressing rooms, hallways, benches and staging areas.
The introduction of activities involving close quarters or physical contact should only occur with a sport cohort — this will limit the number of people each person comes into contact with minimizing the risk of transmission of the novel coronavirus.
Mini leagues, teams comprised of players with similar ages or skill levels, and keeping cohort groups within the designated size will help mitigate risks of exposure and transmission.
The City of Vernon’s recreation department has heard from many residents of the important role sport plays in their physical and mental well-being, director Doug Ross said.
“The health and safety of our citizens is our absolute top priority,” Ross said. “We are pleased to see these new guidelines, which take into account the safety of players, parents, coaches, volunteers and community members, while also providing sound guidance to re-engage with healthy and fun activities that are important to so many people.”
Greater Vernon Recreation Services is now revising its COVID-19 Safety Plan to align with the updated guidelines and once approved, the plan will be distributed to user groups. User groups are, in turn, expected to update their own Safe Return to Play plans and submit them back to recreation services for review.
“We understand and appreciate the work that volunteers are having to do to prepare their plans; some of them for a second time,” Ross said.
“With the provincial orders and so many different guidelines for each of the various sports to navigate, we wish to thank our user groups for their cooperation, understanding and patience as we work to update our own plan, and in turn review theirs in a timely manner,” he said.
“We look forward to seeing our community members on the local pitches, diamonds, courts, and in our arenas enjoying the sports they love to play.”
The entire Phase 3 plan outlined by viaSport can be accessed online at viasport.ca.