Corp Comm Connects

People aged 12 and up will be required to show vaccination proof to access indoor sports venues in York Region
Oct. 1, 2021
Bryann Aguilar

Anyone aged 12 years and older that want to enter an indoor sports venue in York Region will be required to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination starting Oct. 1.

Dr. Karim Kurji, the region's medical officer of health, issued a letter of instruction to sports facility owners Tuesday, notifying them that they need to require players, coaches, staff, and spectators accessing their site to show they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or provide a valid medical exemption.

Under the province's proof-of-vaccination system, which came into effect on Sept. 22, those aged 12 and older entering indoor sports and recreational venues are required to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination. However, those younger than 18 years old participating in an organized sport are exempted as well as volunteers and staff, including coaches and officials.

"Activities related to organized sports have the potential to enhance COVID-19 transmission; specifically, close contact, forceful exhalation, prolonged exposure, crowded indoor spaces and masks and face coverings removed during physical activity contribute to enhanced likelihood of COVID-19 transmission," Kurji wrote in the letter.

"Verifying proof of vaccination for persons 12 years and older in the Facilities noted above, in accordance with this Letter of Instruction, will strengthen protections for York Region communities by helping curb the spread of COVID-19."

York Region joins other public health units in the province that have decided to implement vaccine requirements for anyone entering indoor sports facilities.

On Wednesday afternoon, Peel Region's top doctor, Dr. Lawrence Loh, said he wrote a letter to the province asking them "to reverse the current certificate exemption for youth sports under 18, staff, coaches and officials participating in indoor organized sports."

"I'm aware that other jurisdictions in Ontario have moved locally ahead to issue letters of instruction on the matter. However, many of these leagues play across municipal boundaries and tournaments attract teams from other parts of the province," Loh said.

"It is my hope that the provincial government will act to reduce confusion and ensure consistency across the province and keep these youth and their families safe as they continue to play their sports."

There had been several outbreaks declared at sports tournaments across the province, including in York Region.

Patrick Casey, the director of Corporate Communications for the region, noted that the new policy also comes after COVID-19 modelling shown during last week's regional council meeting showed that York Region could see up to 430 cases per day by December.

Also, according to the modelling, York Region is projected to see 44 hospitalizations of people under the age of 19 by the end of the year.

Owners who do not comply with the instructions could be fined up to a maximum of $100,000.

"We recognize this requirement may cause inconvenience for some residents, businesses and sports organizations," Casey said.

"Requiring more groups to be protected with COVID-19 vaccinations will help reduce this risk while maintaining opportunities for sport."