‘Erring on the side of caution’: Edmonton adopts proof-of-vaccine program for youth sports at its facilities

EDMONTON –

Following the Government of Alberta’s recent implementation of the Restrictions Exemption Program, there’s been some confusion on how the rules will affect youth sports in various municipalities.

According to Alberta’s top doctor, kids aged 12 to 17 do not have to provide proof of vaccination or a negative test when they’re playing in the province. However, facilities are allowed to enforce stricter measures.

“Physical activity is critically important for the overall health and well-being of youth and is necessary to daily living,” Dr. Deena Hinshaw said on Monday.

“I encourage organizations to allow all youth under the age of 18 to participate in sport, recreation and performance activities, and focus on other ways to reduce COVID risk in these settings.”

Municipalities not implementing the new proof-of-vaccination-program at their arenas and rec centres include Spruce Grove, St. Albert, Strathcona County, Beaumont and Fort Saskatchewan.

But, it will not be honoured in Edmonton as the city has chosen to impose stricter health measures.

“That’s erring on the side of caution which has generally been the city’s approach, and out of respect for other patrons who have taken the steps to get vaccinated and then proved their eligibility to be in the facility in a safe way,” Mayor Don Iveson said to media on Wednesday.

The city will require everyone 12 and up to provide proof of immunization or a negative test. As it stands, they’re only exempting previously booked school activities for the next three weeks.

“It’s on a transitional basis here, recognizing that not everyone has it and bookings are in place. But, out beyond Oct. 11, it will be required for everyone.”

What these guidelines mean for surrounding municipalities is some kids might not be eligible to play in Edmonton.

Minor hockey associations told CTV News Edmonton they have been informing parents they have to abide by local rules wherever their teams play.

“By and large, our parents have done a remarkable job navigating these ever turbulent waters that are the pandemic,” Steve Hogle, from Hockey Edmonton, said.

Hogle added there’s only been the occasional player or parent saying they’ll “tap out and take a pass on hockey” this year. Those families were fully refunded.

“We’re trying to move in the right direction that is the safest way for our kids to play hockey.”

With files from TV News Edmonton’s Carlyle Fiset 

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