Supplemental rules are forthcoming from the Simcoe-Muskoka medical officer of health, which will require youth participating in sports to show proof of vaccine, churches to collect contact tracing information, and will include a new trigger requiring quarantine for unvaccinated youth.
Dr. Charles Gardner, medical officer of health for the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit, announced today he’s updating two letters of instruction and will be issuing a new order related to close contact isolation, which will apply across the Simcoe-Muskoka region.
Among the updates will be a requirement for all youth aged 12-17 years old to provide proof of vaccine when participating in sports outside of school. This rule will not be in effect for several weeks as the health unit will choose a deadline to allow time for youth who are not vaccinated to be fully immunized by the start date.
A letter of instruction from Gardner issued on Oct. 14 requires all coaches, trainers and volunteers working with children and youth in indoor sports and recreation facilities to show proof of vaccination starting Nov. 25. But that letter did not include youth participants.
The province already requires anyone over 18 years old participating in a sport to show proof of vaccinations for admittance into any indoor facilities.
Gardner is also seeking to make the rules for church gatherings “explicit” by adding places of worship to his existing letter of instruction to businesses and organizations in the region.
The rules include screening for symptoms for anyone coming into the building, wearing a mask while indoors, maintaining physical distancing, and collecting contact information for the purposes of contact tracing.
An active outbreak at Mapleview Community Church in Barrie now has more than 26 cases linked to the church. Gardner said there are six other places of worship in Simcoe-Muskoka where there have been COVID exposures and where there’s potential for an outbreak to be declared.
“These rules are in place already for many other businesses and workplaces, now they would explicitly include places of worship,” said Gardner.
The final added restriction Gardner announced on Wednesday during the media briefing, was an extension of close contact isolation.
Any youth under 19 years old who is unvaccinated, and who shares a house with another unvaccinated person who has been identified as a close contact of a case must also isolate as a close contact. This includes children under 12 who are not yet eligible for a vaccine.
The rules for self-isolation are included in an order from Dr. Gardner posted here. They will soon be updated to reflect the changes announced today.
“This is intended to help us prevent further spread in schools,” said Gardner. “It is to help reduce the size and number of outbreaks.”
There are 15 active outbreaks linked to 70 cases at schools in the region and 26 per cent of the COVID cases confirmed in Simcoe-Muskoka in October were in children aged 12 and under. This is compared to 15 per cent of cases in children in July.
The updated letters of instruction and Section 22 order with these changes have not been posted yet, but Gardner said they would be published soon.
Proof of vaccination for youth in sports will not be required immediately, as the health unit will be providing time for youth who are not yet vaccinated to become vaccinated before the rule takes effect.