The Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit (SMDHU) continues to prioritize the health and wellbeing of all residents and visitors to Simcoe Muskoka. Due to the ongoing circulation of COVID-19, with most cases caused by the highly contagious Delta variant, SMDHU is issuing a letter of instruction to owners, operators and persons responsible for any indoor facilities used for sports and recreational fitness activities in the County of Simcoe, the District of Muskoka and the Cities of Orillia and Barrie.
Effective Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2021, at 12:01 a.m., owners, operators and persons responsible for any indoor facilities or any premises or part of a premises used for sports and recreational fitness activities in Simcoe Muskoka will be required to ensure that each individual, age 12 years and older provides identification and proof of full vaccination against COVID-19 or a valid medical exemption to attend the facility’s indoor area for coaching, teaching, instructing, officiating at organized sports, or volunteering. They must also comply with all other regulations and requirements under the Reopening Ontario Act, 2020, unless specifically exempt by these instructions, in addition to any COVID-19 regulatory requirements, local bylaw or health unit Order that are in force or effect. The letter of instruction does not apply to individuals aged 12-17 years who participate in organized youth sports.
“Sport and recreational fitness activities provide physical and mental health benefits to participants. However, many of these activities are high-intensity and involve heavy breathing, prolonged close contact and lack of masks for source control, putting individuals at greater risk for COVID-19 transmission,” said Dr. Charles Gardner, Medical Officer of Health.
“Volunteers, coaches and officials frequently have close and prolonged contact with participants including youth and children, some of whom are unvaccinated. Requiring individuals in these roles who are 12 years of age and older to provide proof of vaccination when accessing indoor facilities used for sport and fitness activities can greatly reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission, thus improving protection and limiting the spread.”
SMDHU is one of several public health units throughout Ontario, upon consultation with the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health, that is instructing facility operators to require those aged 12 and older who coach, officiate, or volunteer at indoor organized sports to show proof of vaccination. Vaccination of individuals born prior to 2010 is strongly recommended.
SMDHU reminds residents that the best way to prevent the spread of COVID-19 is through vaccination and that eligible residents can obtain their vaccine through participating pharmacies, primary care providers, and pop-up clinics. It is also essential to follow current public health measures, including staying home when feeling ill, maintaining a physical distance of at least 2 metres from those living outside of your household, wearing a mask indoors and outdoors when physical distancing is not possible, covering your cough, and washing your hands regularly.
To learn more about COVID-19 vaccines and current public health safety measures and requirements, visit smdhu.org/covid19.