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COVID-19 transmission in organized team sports

October 21, 2020
Public Health

Ottawa Public Health (OPH) is actively investigating several situations where transmission of COVID-19 has occurred in relation to organized team sports.

In these situations, OPH is following up with all individuals who test positive, as well as their close contacts. We are working closely with local sports organizations to inform them of the situation and to provide further guidance on the importance of taking preventative measures while participating in team sports.

Based on case management investigations, transmission may have occurred in a variety of ways including during team play, during the use of locker rooms, during carpooling with members outside a player’s household, eating together among teammates, parents, coaches and other children, team staff members who are involved in more than one team and individuals not wearing masks.

We recognize the important role that staying active plays in our overall health and well-being. In light of these events, it’s important to remind all families about being COVID Wise while participating in organized team sports.

Be COVID Wise

Transmission of COVID-19 is possible before, during and after training. Precautions are required to reduce the risk of transmission while enabling training to occur.

  • Minimize social gatherings of participants and spectators both before and after the activity. This includes spectator stands, change rooms – which are now both closed during the modified stage-two restrictions – and the areas outside of recreational facilities.
  • Limit carpooling and meals (in homes or at restaurants) to those within your household
  • Limit gatherings inside and outside the facilities. Ensure a two-metre physical distance and wearing masks if parents and/or participants are socializing in the facility parking lots.
  • Do not coach or play for more than one team
  • Wear a face mask at all times unless engaged in strenuous athletic activity.
  • Maintain physical distance of at least two metres from other people before, during and after the activity
  • Clean and disinfect equipment between uses
  • Do not share your sports gear with other people
  • Practice frequent hand hygiene by using an alcohol-based hand rub or washing your hands with soap and water
  • Play outside rather than indoors

OPH reminds residents that although training is still permitted, team sports and activities are still considered high risk. COVID does not distinguish between a game or a practice, so it is important to use the same core principles of mask wearing, physical distancing, handwashing, and staying home when sick to reduce transmission of the virus.

Sports and recreation outbreak reporting

Starting today at 12:30 pm, OPH will be reporting on the number of outbreaks in sports and recreation settings on our daily COVID-19 dashboard. Individual teams and organizations will not be named in this report.

Similar to some other settings, an outbreak in a sports league is defined as at least two players or coaches on the same team testing positive for COVID-19 with an epidemiological link.

Current provincial regulations

The modified stage two regulations have outlined the following measures to reduce the risk of COVID transmission:

  • Team sports games and/or scrimmages, both outdoor and indoor, are not permitted at this time in Ottawa
  • Allow only 10 participants (including coaches/volunteers) in the arena and other indoor sports facilities at one time; Allow only 25 participants (including coaches/volunteers) at outdoor sports facilities, fields and outdoor courts at one time
  • Do not travel between Ottawa and other regions for training, games, exhibitions, or tournaments
  • Modify sports practices and training so that they do not include contact between people
  • Maintain two-metre physical distance between players, coaches, officials and others at all times. This includes before and after the training sessions
  • Activities that are likely to result in individuals coming within two metres of each other (ex. carpools, tailgating) must not be practiced
  • No spectators are permitted
  • Ensure masks are always worn by athletes and coaches, except while they are engaged in vigorous physical activity
  • Maintain mask use and distancing by players, coaches and parents before and after training sessions
  • Locker rooms, change rooms, showers and clubhouses in the facility must be closed, except to the extent they provide access to equipment storage, a washroom or a portion of the facility that is used to provide first aid

Visit OttawaPublicHealth.ca for more Guidance for Return to Sport, Recreation and Fitness.

For more information on COVID-19 in Ottawa, visit OttawaPublicHealth.ca or follow them on Facebook and Twitter.

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