Sports sidelined following new provincial COVID-19 health orders

Indoor sports and activities have been sidelined for the next two weeks in order to help curb the spread of COVID-19 throughout the province, Dr. Bonnie Henry has announced.

The provincial health officer made a rare Saturday appearance this afternoon to announce a number of new preventive measures and restrictions in the Vancouver Coastal and Fraser Health regions in order to slow the spread of novel coronavirus following 567 new cases in the last 24 hours.

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A two-week reversal of the province’s restart plan will come into effect tonight at 10 p.m. and last until Nov. 23 at 12 p.m., according to Henry.

“We need to take urgent and focused actions,” said Henry. “This will give us a chance to stop the transmission.”

In addition to new restrictions that apply to social gatherings, travel, indoor group physical activities and workplace safety, Henry emphasized that travel for sports into and out of the health regions was suspended for the next weeks.

“In terms of group physical activities, this unfortunately is an area where we have seen spread in multiple different settings,” said Henry.  “As of today, businesses, recreation centers or other organizations that organize or operate indoor group physical activities must stop holding these activities until updated COVID-19 safety plans are in place so they can be held safely,” said Henry.

This applies to activities such as spin classes, yoga classes, group fitness and dance classes.

Henry also noted that indoor sports where physical distancing can’t be maintained are now suspended for two weeks, including indoor competitions and games.

“These activities can be replaced with individual exercise or practice and drills,” she said. “I will note that this is not applying to physical activities that are part of a school-based program.”

In response to a question about how the new restrictions will impact kids’ minor indoor hockey, Henry was direct.

“Those are some of the sports teams we’re looking at. We need to take a pause in this region right now and make sure that these can continue – but we’re not having games across regions, we’re not travelling with hockey teams or other sports teams.”

In addition to restrictions on sports and indoor activities, Henry also announced that social gatherings would be relegated strictly to households for the next two weeks.

“There are to be no social gatherings of any size with anyone other than your immediate household,” said Henry.

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