Manitoba hockey players age 12-17 face new COVID-19 arena rules Monday

New public health rules around indoor kids’ recreation are less than a week away, and some youth sports organizations are bracing for growing pains.

As of Monday, kids 12 to 17 will have to have had at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine or a recent negative test before being allowed to participate in indoor sports, like hockey.

According to Peter Woods of Hockey Manitoba, the vast majority — about 80 per cent — of the province’s young players will be fine, but there are some concerns with those who remain on the outside looking in.

“A lot of areas within our province, you can only get tested at a pharmacy, and there’s a lot of small-town Manitoba that does not have a pharmacy within their particular town,” he said.

Woods told 680 CJOB he expects there will be a loss of some players and officials, and that some small-town teams may have to merge if they don’t have enough players to ice a full team on their own.

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For most players, coaches, officials and parents, however, he expects the transition to be fairly seamless, as arenas have already increased health protocols when it comes to older age groups.

“If the facility is already checking people that are coming in the door that aren’t participating in the game, it only makes sense that they would be doing the same for the players that are participating in the game,” he said.

“So by default, the way that the order is written, they should be responsible for checking everyone that comes into that facility.”

Woods said he doesn’t think enforcement should be an issue, although based on the variety of uses many arenas have, there may be some kinks to work out.

“You have a number of different user groups that are using the facility — as in ringette, as in hockey, entrepreneurs, figure skating, etc.,” he said.

“You’re going to get different applications and inconsistency in how that’s applied.”

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Hockey Manitoba on changes to public health orders – Nov 15, 2021


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