Stronger COVID-19 vaccination requirements go into effect for volunteers and coaches in Northern Ontario today.
The seven medical officers of health in the north have issued letters of instruction requiring proof of vaccination or a valid medical exemption for anyone 12 years and older who is coaching or officiating organized sports in an indoor facility, as well as volunteers or spectators.
The changes are effective today (Oct. 14) in the health unit regions for Algoma, North Bay Parry Sound, Porcupine, Sudbury and districts, Timiskaming, Northwestern and the Thunder Bay district.
The province already requires people 12 years and up to be vaccinated at indoor sport and recreational facilities, with the exemption of people participating in an organized sport.
The new letter of instruction builds on the provincial requirements and mandates facility operators to require people 12 years and older who coach, officiate or volunteer at indoor organized sports to show proof of vaccination.
Organized sport is identified as including, but not limited to, sports leagues, organized pick-up sports, dance classes, gymnastics, martial arts and swimming classes. Individual leagues or sporting groups may also have their own vaccine requirements for participants.
Proof of vaccination is not required for youth 12 to 17 years who are actively participating in the organized sport, however, the medical officers of health are monitoring the situation and could adjust instructions as needed.
People who don't comply with the letter of instruction could be fined up to a maximum of $100,000. For corporations, the maximum fine is no more than $10 million for each day or part of each day that the offence occurs or continues.
Ontario's vaccine passport has been in effect since Sept. 22 and requires people 12 years and older to be fully vaccinated to access high-risk indoor settings such as restaurants. A person is considered fully vaccinated 14 days after receiving their second dose.
In the coming weeks, the province is expected to roll out the digital vaccination certificate.
It will be a unique QR code allowing businesses and facilities to scan and validate it. The digital system is slated to take effect Oct. 22.
Some capacity rules for places requiring the vaccine passport were eased recently.
As of Saturday, Oct. 9, capacity limits were lifted for:
- Concert venues, theatres and cinemas
- Spectator areas of facilities for sports and recreation fitness. Capacity limits remain in place for gyms and personal training.
- Meeting and event spaces, although spaces will still need to limit capacity to allow people to maintain physical distancing
- Horseracing tracks, car racing tracks and other similar venues
- Commercial film and television productions with studio audiences