The local medical officer of health has announced he will be making it mandatory for coaches, volunteers and referees to show proof of vaccination against COVID-19 if they're going to work with youth in sports and recreation.
School sports would be exempt from the rule.
Dr. Charles Gardner will be issuing a letter of instruction in his capacity as medical officer of health for the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit later this week to implement the new mandate.
The current provincial requirements mandate proof of vaccine for youth sport spectators, but don't require it from those participating in the sport nor from those coaching or otherwise participating in running the sports event or practice.
"It is about protecting the kids, the youth, but in particular, those who cannot be immunized," said Gardner during a briefing on Oct. 13. "There are a number of medical officers of health across the province that feel (coaches and assistants) should be immunized to protect the youth."
A letter of instruction from a medical officer of health can be issued according to the Health Protection and Promotion Act to mandate a public health measure in a specific region. In this case, Gardner said the letter will be posted later this week.
However, he will be allowing six weeks for people to comply with the vaccination requirement, leaving an unvaccinated individual enough time to get their first dose, wait three weeks, get a second dose, and then pass the 14-day waiting period.
The mandatory proof of vaccination would apply to coaches, instructors, assistants, referees, and volunteers overseeing and running children and youth sports in facilities outside of schools.
This would include sports like minor hockey, figure skating, swimming, gymnastics, etc.
There is no current requirement for youth (including those aged 12 and up who are eligible for a vaccine) to show proof of vaccination to participate in sports and recreation.
The mandate from Gardner would apply to all child and youth sports taking place in venues within Simcoe County and Muskoka District.
More details will be released with the letter of instruction from Gardner later this week.