New safety measures announced by SMDHU in wake of spike in COVID-19 cases.

Youth 12 and older involved in indoor sports outside of school will be required to show proof of vaccination

The Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit (SMDHU) announced a series of measures on Tuesday to try and cap a growing COVID-19 case count in the region.

The revisions apply to the same businesses and organizations as before, according to a health unit statement, with the addition of indoor playground facilities, any organization or facility that provides indoor programming for children under 12 when programming is occurring, and locations where religious services take place.

The measures include:

  • Active screening of members of the public, obtaining contact information and greater instruction on physical distancing for specific businesses and organizations.
  • Exemptions to physical distancing as noted in the regulation businesses and organizations including places that require proof of vaccination (POV) or may opt-in for POV.
  • Persons with COVID-19 symptoms, or who have been identified as a close contact, or who fail their active screening questions.
  • “Over a matter of weeks, we have seen a dramatic increase in confirmed cases of COVID-19 in workplaces and public settings throughout Simcoe Muskoka, and we must take additional measures to curtail the rising rate of transmission,” said Dr. Charles Gardner, Medical Officer of Health. “A key factor contributing to transmission in businesses and organizations is close contact between individuals, which then leads to spread of the disease easily to individuals within households, particularly if individuals are not fully vaccinated. The updated letters of instruction will help to clarify the steps that businesses, organizations and indoor recreation facilities must take so that we can improve protection in our community and reduce further spread.” 

    Youth aged 12 to 17 who were previously exempt from proof of vaccination requirements will need to show they are double-dosed to access indoor recreational facilities used for sport and recreational fitness activities.

    “This has the potential to greatly reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19 to and from these individuals, limiting further spread,” said a statement from the SMDHU. “Several other regions of Ontario have previously implemented a similar requirement.”

    As of Dec. 8, the health unit says all owners, operators and persons responsible for any indoor areas of facilities used for organized sports and recreational fitness activities will be required to implement and enforce a policy that requires each person 12 years of age and older attending or being involved in activities to have proof of having received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine for entry.

    These individuals will need identification and proof of a second dose, or valid exemption for entry after Feb. 16, 2022.

    The health unit says this is in keeping with rules that go into effect on Nov. 25 requiring any person 12 years of age and older who is coaching, officiating or teaching organized sports or recreational fitness to be fully vaccinated.

    Starting on Jan. 1, 2000, children will have a 12-week grace period from their twelfth birthday to receive their COVID-19 vaccinations. The health unit says this allows for a reasonable amount of opportunity for children to complete their vaccination and to accommodate the current recommended eight-week interval between dose 1 and 2. During this period, these individuals will be required to provide proof of identification at a point of entry, but do not need to provide proof of being fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

    Banner image: Dr. Charles Gardner, Simcoe Muskoka Medical Officer of Health

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