In a move that impacts everything from sports leagues and organized pick-up sports to dance and swimming classes, gymnastics and martial arts, anyone aged 12 years and older – including players, coaches, officiants and spectators – must show proof of vaccination or a medical exemption to enter a recreational facility in York Region.
Dr. Karim Kurji, York’s medical officer of health, used his authority under the Reopening Ontario Act to impose the requirement, which is believed to be the first of its kind in the province to be imposed by a local health authority.
News of the sudden requirement has caught many off guard, as most sports and dance facilities were exempted from the vaccine passport launched by the Ontario government on September 22. But because 75 per cent of York Region residents aged 12 to 17 are already fully vaccinated and 82 per cent have received a first dose, the impact of this “added layer of protection” should be “minimal,” the Region says.
Kurji imposed the requirement to help contain the spread of COVID-19. “Activities related to organized sports have the potential to enhance COVID-19 transmission,” he says in a letter of instruction to facility owners and operators. “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.”
All Ontarians can print or download their vaccination receipt from the provincial booking portal at covid19.ontariohealth.ca.
Anyone who needs help obtaining a copy of their vaccination receipt, including those who don’t have access to a computer or printer, can call the Provincial Vaccine Contact Centre at 1-833-943-3900.
Failure to comply with the above requirements can result in charges under the ROA. If charged under Part I of the Provincial Offenses Act (POA), set fine amounts are $750 for individuals and $1,000 for corporations.