Sports, Recreation and Being Active During COVID-19

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Last revised on September 28,  2020

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Being Active During COVID-19

Physical activity and getting fresh air are important for our overall physical and mental wellness. There are ways to be active either at home or outside while keeping physical distance and being COVIDWise.

Our neighbourhood sidewalks, streets, multiuse paths, and dog parks are all available to get outside and get moving. When doing these activities, some ways to stay safe: 

  • Step-aside or pass others quickly and courteously on sidewalks. Passing someone on the sidewalk is not considered a close contact or a significant risk for exposure to COVID-19.
  • Keep 2 metres distance from others;
  • When moving at a fast pace (such as when running or cycling), it is best to stay as far away from others as possible;
  • If you must be behind another runner or cyclist, stay well back and try to stagger yourselves so as to not be directly behind them;
  • Change your route or the time of day that you go out, so that you can follow these guidelines.

Learn more on the guidelines for the use of City parks.

Before going outside, consider the following questions and assess whether you can keep a 2 metre (6 feet) distance from others:

  • Does my home environment (i.e. a tall apartment building with limited elevators or narrow hallways) make it difficult to have space from others?
  • Is my normal walking route crowded right now?
  • Will I be tempted to talk with others and not maintain a 2 metre (6 feet) distance?
  • Will my young children have a hard time keeping a 2 metre (6 feet) distance from others, particularly other children?

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Who can be active outside? Know your own risks.

For some people, it is okay to go out for a walk, run, or bike-ride. Others may need to stay in their homes for their own safety and/or the safety of the community.

Follow the instructions for your situation below:

 Can I get fresh air in my private property (e.g. backyard, balcony, porch)?Can I go for a walk/run/bike-ride off my private property?
Individuals who have returned from travel outside Canada Yes No
Individuals with symptoms of COVID-19, even if they are mild Yes No
Individuals who are a close contact of a confirmed/suspected case of COVID-19 Yes No

Older adults

Yes

Ottawa Public Health states that the risk of serious illness f​rom COVID-19 increases progressively with age, particularly beyond 50 years of age. Every individual needs to consider their personal risk factors when making decisions about going out and remember to always be COVIDWise.

Individuals who are immunocompromised (or underlying medical conditions)  Yes

People who have serious underlying medical conditions (such as: cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, chronic lung disease, chronic liver disease, cancer, are immunocompromised) or who are severely obese are at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19. Every individual needs to consider their personal risk factors when making decisions about going out and remember to always be COVIDWise.

All other Ottawa residents (except those listed above) Yes Yes, but only if you can keep 2 metres (6 feet) from others  and you have NO symptoms of COVID19

Always remember to wash your hands when you come back in from outside.

Gyms/Fitness Studios (e.g., yoga, dance, martial arts) are now open

It is important to remember that even with precautions, working out inside with others is still considered a higher risk activity. If you are  at increased risk for COVID-19 illness you will need to assess what level of risk is appropriate for you. You may need to consider other options for being physically active (e.g., being active outdoors). The use of masks is recommended for any exercise within the gym that does not significantly increase your heart rate and breathing. You, the exercising person, will be the best judge of this. It is also recommended that patrons practice physical distancing (2 metres or 6 feet apart) from others at all times

Outdoor and team sports:

Team sports may only be practiced or played within the facility if they do not allow or have been modified to avoid physical contact between players.  This means that if players are “practicing” or “playing” team sports, they must play a modified game to avoid physical contact.

Ideas to stay active at home

If you can’t get outside or don’t have access to a private outdoor space, there are many ways to be active indoors. 

  • Be creative and use what you have at home to keep everyone moving.
  • Access online resources for both live and recorded activities to get you moving at home:

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COVID-19 Guidance for Return to Play Sports, Recreation and Fitness

This guidance should be followed along with all regulations from the Province of Ontario, including recent changes to Ontario Regulations 364/20 announced October 2, 2020. 

These guidelines have been developed to support the return to sport, recreation, and fitness. They are intended to provide guidance to support facilities and organizers to re-open and return to play as safely as possible while COVID-19 is in our community. View the full PDF COVID-19 Guidance for Return to Play Sports, Recreation and Fitness or click the titles below to view the sections. 

Refer to Ontario’s Framework for Reopening our Province during Stage 3 for additional information.

Plan for your sports safer return using our COVID-19 Guidance for Return to Play Sports, Recreation and Fitness.

Guidance for Return to Sport, Recreation and Fitness

General Considerations

This guidance should be used in conjunction with any additional applicable facility or sport/activity specific guidance: 

  • Return to Organized Sport and Recreation Plan Template and Checklist
  • Wherever possible, activities should be re-located to outdoor settings.
  • Consideration should be given on how to appropriately include or accommodate individuals at increased risk for COVID-19 such as older adults, and persons with compromised immune systems.
    • Examples include reducing attendance, offering virtual methods of engagement (where feasible) and dedicating certain rooms/times for those at greater risk.Communicate to all staff and participants (coaches/staff, instructors, officials, participants, and their guardians, volunteers) about the risk of COVID-19 and practices to mitigate risk. 
  • Communicate to all staff and participants (coaches/staff, instructors, officials, participants, and their guardians, volunteers) about the risk of COVID-19 and practices to mitigate risk.
    • Communication platforms could include online registration forms, rental contracts, automated telephone switchboards, etc.
  • Encourage clients to visit www.ottawapublichealth.ca/coronavirus for more information
  • Discourage cheering, chanting, singing and yelling at all sport, fitness and recreational events. These activities present a high risk of spreading droplets.

Notice of Risk

Public health measures taken by participants, organizers and operators for recreational and sporting activities are part of Ontario’s collective approach to mitigate the transmission of COVID-19.  The risk of transmission in any setting will increase when physical distancing, respiratory etiquette and hand hygiene practices are not followed.  It is important to note that with re-opening, there is no such thing as zero risk.  The activities such as sports and physical activity allowed in stage 3 are higher risk, which is why they were delayed into this phase. Additionally, although measures can be taken to ensure participation in sport is as safe as possible, participating athletes, spectators, coaches, referees and staff will still be at risk for exposure to COVID-19 while participating.

It is recommended to include some form of consent waiver as part of the enrolment process for any sport or activity. Individuals should be advised of the risks involved with participation prior to their engagement in the activity. 

Screening

  • Prior to arrival, any person participating in a fitness class, sport or activity – including staff, volunteers, and participants – should be directed to perform  a  COVID-19 Self-Assessment.
  • The owner/operator, or another person appointed for that purpose, should be present and checking to ensure adherence to protocols and that all staff, volunteers and participants do not have symptoms of COVID-19 prior to entry.  
  • Do not allow employees, volunteers and or participants who are unwell to come onsite. Anyone with symptoms of COVID-19 should go home, self-isolate and be advised to contact their primary health provider and/or get tested.
  • Ensure that all participant information is recorded daily including: the clients’ full name, contact information, date, their intended activity and areas of facility they will be accessing. This information will assist contact tracing in the event of any COVID-19 cases. Facility operators can work with groups, associations, clubs and coaches to facilitate this process. 
  • Post signage at the facility entrance for individuals to self-screen. 

Mandatory Mask Use in Enclosed Public Spaces

Wearing a mask in indoor public spaces is now a mandatory requirement under the City of Ottawa’s Temporary Mandatory Mask By-law 2020-186 to limit the spread of COVID-19..

Temporary Mandatory Mask By-law: Info for businesses and operators (pdf - 219 KB)

Temporary removal of a mask while in an enclosed public space is allowed when:

  • receiving services that require the removal of the mask;
  • actively engaging in an athletic or fitness activity including water-based activities, and lifeguards working at indoor pools;
  • consuming food or drink; or an emergency or medical purpose.

There are exemptions to this by-law including, but not limited to, children under two years of age and individuals with medical conditions and disabilities. Proof is not required from any individuals who are exempt from wearing a mask. If an individual, refuses to wear a mask and is not exempted, the operator/organization can call 311 for assistance.

Post, at every public entrance to the premises, prominent and clearly visible signage about the mask requirement.

Physical Distancing

  • Ensure physical distancing of at least 2 metres between participants in all facility areas including the lobby, change rooms, multi-purpose rooms, hallways, and while off the field of play (players’ bench, bleachers, etc.). Physical distancing does not apply to those who are from the same household or social circle
  • Traffic flow and physical distancing markers should be visible throughout the facility to promote physical distancing. 
  • Use a reservation system and alter booking times of facility amenities (e.g., courts, pools, auxiliary rooms, fieldhouse, ice pads) to create a buffer between sessions. 

Hand Hygiene and Other Public Health Measures

  • Facility operators are required to make alcohol-based hand rub available at all entrances and exits as per the Temporary Mandatory Mask By-law
  • Wash your hands with soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizer frequently. This is the best way to reduce the spread of germs.
    • Expect to be asked to wash or sanitize your hands upon entry and exit of the facility or venue.  
    • Pack a bottle of your own hand sanitizer in your activity bag and use it frequently during the activity.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth (even if you are wearing sport gloves).
  • Use good respiratory etiquette by covering your cough and sneeze with a tissue or coughing and sneezing into your arm, not your hand. Avoid spitting and clearing nasal passages as well.
  • Limit or avoid cheering, singing and yelling as it presents a high risk of spreading droplets. 
  • No spitting or otherwise expelling fluid from mouth.

Scheduling and Capacity/Gathering Limits

  • Group sizes must not exceed the current government limits on gatherings. Adhere to all Ministry guidelines related to what can reopen in each stage.
  • The total number permitted to be in the facility must be limited to ensure a physical distance of at least two metres can be maintained.
    • Assuming physical distancing can be maintained, the current indoor gathering limit is 50 people per room or 100 people per outdoor space.
    • People at their place of work, including performers and crews, do not count towards gathering limits.
    • The revised capacity limits apply per room (August 15,2020). They apply to gymnasiums, health clubs, community centres, multi-purpose facilities, arenas, exercise studios, yoga and dance studios, and other fitness facilities.
    • Gathering limits do not apply to all indoor spaces such as pools, tennis courts and rinks.  In these cases, gathering limits (including spectators) are determined by the space needed to ensure physical distancing can always be maintained.
    • To ensure physical distancing, consider reducing capacity in each room, venue, court, pool or ice surface in the facility.
    • Request that participants arrive no more than 5-10 minutes before their scheduled activity, game, or booking. 
    • Coordinate booking times to avoid crowding and reduce wait times. 
    • Encourage patrons to limit their time spent in the facility and to maintain physical distancing when returning to vehicles or homes.
    • To support cleaning and disinfection efforts, schedules should allow adequate time to thoroughly clean and disinfect equipment and spaces (including washrooms, locker and change rooms, gyms, etc.) between each groups/booking.

Staff & Volunteers

  • Assign equipment and supplies to individual staff members/volunteers and avoid any unnecessary sharing.
  • Provide training and information to staff/volunteers on COVID-19 transmission and prevention.
    • Provide instruction around proper handwashing and respiratory etiquette.
    • Ensure that all persons working/volunteering at the establishment are familiar with the requirements of the Mandatory Mask Use by-law policy.
  • Ensure staff and volunteers have access to hand washing stations (sink with water, soap and paper towel) or alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Designate a staff person to ensure public health guidelines are followed (e.g. watching for adherence to physical distancing).
    • The responsible person should not be someone engaged in other critical duties (e.g. referee, lifeguard).
    • Discourage congregating of staff in common areas (ex. staff lounge) with signage and if need physical modifications.

Emergency Response Plan

  • Include an emergency response protocol into your resumption of service plans.
  • If a participant requires basic first aid, consider having a family member attend to them. If this is not possible, the first aid provider should use appropriate personal protective equipment for the situation (such as a mask, protective eyewear, face shield and gloves).

Resumption of Service Plan

 Guidance for Participants & Parents

A safer return to sport and recreation will require cooperation from everyone – including participants.

Monitor for symptoms of COVID-19

Wear a mask

Ensure physical distancing

  • Physical distancing involves taking steps to limit the number of people you come into contact with outside the members or your household or social circle. This recommendation applies for participants and spectators.
    • Arrive dressed for the activity to limit the use of lockers and change rooms.
    • Avoid group celebrations and other customs (e.g. handshakes, high fives, fist bumps, chest bumps) to limit contact with other participants.
    • Arrive no more than 5-10 minutes before the activity and do not linger in the facility or parking lot after the activity. 
    • Arrange for transportation to and from activities so that only members from the same household or social circle are sharing rides.

Equipment and Personal Items

  • Bring your own equipment and do not share your personal items (e.g. water bottle, towels).
    • Label equipment and personal items with your name so they can be easily identified. 
    • Keep your personal items to a  minimum and leave them in a designated area (do not pile your bags and equipment with your teammate’s equipment).
  • Limit the use of shared equipment unless you are engaged in an activity with a participant from the same household or social circle. If equipment is shared (e.g. baseball bat), it should be cleaned and disinfected between users. 
    • Have cleaning supplies like sanitizing wipes in your activity bag to be able to wipe down equipment or personal equipment. If you are unable to buy commercial disinfectant, you can make your own homemade disinfectant.
  • Clean and disinfect equipment and personal items before and after every activity. Wash clothing with regular laundry detergent after the activity.
  • Your equipment, including sport gloves, should be visibly clean. 
    • Hands should be cleaned before and after using sporting gloves. 
    • Gloves should be cleaned after each use. 
  • Follow any cleaning and disinfection procedures set out by the facility or organization.  
  • If the venue or facility permits spectators, they are encouraged to bring their own chairs (e.g. for an outdoor venue) or bring disinfectant wipes to clean the sitting area. 
 Guidance for Sports Organizations

This guidance is applicable for group fitness and programs, personal training and other services. 

Review COVID-19 Guidance for Return to Play Sports, Recreation and Fitness.

General Guidance

  • Amateur and recreational sports leagues may resume if:
    • they do not allow prolonged or deliberate physical contact between players
    • they have made modifications to prohibit/discourage physical contact between players and to optimize physical distancing during play. 
  • Team sports in which body contact between players is either an integral component of the sport or commonly occurs while engaged in the sport (e.g. wrestling, judo, etc.) are not yet permitted, unless the approach can be modified to prevent prolonged or deliberate physical contact. 
  • Sport and recreation organizations (e.g. clubs, associations, leagues, and teams) booking facilities must follow facility protocols and guidelines, as well as establish their own sport or activity-specific guidelines for the safe return to sport/activity.  
    • Those participating in organized activities sanctioned by, or affiliated with, a provincial or national sport organization should refer to and ensure they are also complying with their governing body’s guidelines, assuming they meet or exceed provincial requirements. 

Leagues

  • Leagues must contain no more than 50 participants total. If participants in a league exceed 50, the league may divide into smaller groups of no more than 50 participants. 
  • While there is nothing in the provincial regulations that prohibits a participant from registering in multiple leagues, this would be considered a higher risk activity that OPH does not recommend. Individuals must assess their own risk and be aware and that by participating in multiple sports or leagues they are placing themselves at increased risk for contracting COVID and possibly exposing others in their household. The secondary consideration is the impact of any required home isolation that could result from possible exposure through multiple sports leagues and teams. 
  • Participants must also consider their respective sport's governing body requirements, as they may limit participation in more than one league.
  • Keeping sport, physical activity, and recreation activities local is preferred. Travel to other regions and out of province should be limited. Any provincial and federal travel restrictions must be followed.
 Guidance for Recreation and Fitness Programs and Services

This guidance is applicable for group fitness and programs, personal training and other services.

Review COVID-19 Guidance for Return to Play Sports, Recreation and Fitness.

General Considerations

  • Fitness activities should be led by a responsible person [fitness instructor or trainer] who will assume the responsibility to support the adherence to these guidelines.
  • Although masks are not required during vigorous physical activity according to the Temporary Mandatory Mask By-law, it is recommended that all participants wear masks as much as possible prior to and immediately following their physical activity, especially when physical distancing is hard to maintain. 

Scheduling & Capacity

  • The total number of people permitted in areas containing weights or exercise machines is limited to the number of people that can maintain physical distancing of at least two metres, which cannot exceed the indoor gathering limit of 50 people. 
  • If additional strategies are needed to manage the number of people at the facility, consider using a booking system for classes and booking workout periods. Request that clients do not arrive more than 5 minutes before their scheduled class or booking and coordinate appointment times to avoid crowding and reduce wait times.
    • Clients should be advised that they must cancel an appointment or booking if they develop symptoms. Communicate your illness policy and facility protocols to clients prior to their appointment.  Consider adjusting your cancellation policy to allow for clients to cancel or reschedule appointments or bookings without penalty should they develop symptoms.
  • Encourage clients to limit their time spent in the facility and to maintain physical distancing when returning to vehicles or homes.  
  • To support cleaning and disinfection efforts, scheduling should allow adequate time to thoroughly clean and disinfect equipment and spaces (including washrooms, locker and change rooms, gyms, etc.) between each groups/booking.

Participants

  • Encourage participants to come prepared in the appropriate attire for the activity they are participating in when possible.
  • Encourage participants to bring their own equipment to the facility (e.g. mats, blocks). Wherever possible, limit the use of shared equipment unless participants engaged in the same activity are from the same household or social circle.Participant-owned equipment should be visibly clean. 
  • Participants should not share any personal items (e.g., water bottles, towels).
  • Unless otherwise approved or required, participants should not be accompanied by a parent or guardian.  If a parent or guardian is required to be present, they must practise physical distancing and maintain all other relevant public health measures.

Personal Training

  • Consider the use of technology for virtual personal training where possible.
  • Advise both clients and trainers to arrive close to their appointment time. Ensure that the waiting area is configured so that people can maintain physical distancing.
  • As much as possible, personal training sessions should be conducted in a manner that avoids touching clients and masks should be worn as much as possible. Promote and support the use of verbal cues or technology (e.g. using a tablet to show an instructional video) while coaching.

Group Classes (land and water)

  • Group classes must only be offered if physical distancing measures can be maintained. 
  • Consider holding classes outdoors
  • Consider classes which do not require equipment or for clients to provide their own.
  • Instructors should be assigned and wear microphones to reduce the need for shouting.
    • Instructors should direct participants to avoid singing along to music and avoid having them shout back at them. 
  • Consider creating cohorts of classmates by assigning specific times for the same participants to partake in classes.
  • Mitigate the potential for classmates to gather before and after a class within the facility.
  • Ensure group fitness classrooms are well ventilated (e.g., open windows if possible).
    • High-powered fans may result in greater dispersion of droplets. Consider further reducing class sizes to maintain room temperature at manageable levels without the use of high-powered fans.
  • For classes with significant movement (i.e. dance), it is recommended the program be altered to limit the need to travel within the room and to maintain physical distancing of 2 metres between participants. Consider dancing in a designated area or moving the class outdoors.
  • Assigned spaces are strongly recommended for organized fitness classes (e.g., by marking circles on the floor to designate where each person should exercise).
  • Consider removing unused equipment from group fitness rooms to create additional space for clients.
  • For high intensity fitness classes (e.g. spin/cycle class, dance, hot yoga, boot camp), consider the following: 
    • There is no scientific evidence establishing a ‘safe’ distance between participants during indoor high intensity activities. 
    • Both operators and participants should proceed with this type of exercise with caution and should take appropriate measures to reduce risk of exposure and transmission.  
    • Reduce the overall number of participants in classes to ensure that a minimum distance of 3 meters is maintained in all directions of each participant. Increase physical distance, or install physical barriers, between the instructor and participants. 

Weight Rooms

  • Any equipment must be cleaned and disinfected between each use. 
  • Activities must not be practiced within the facility if they require the use of fixed structures that cannot be cleaned and disinfected between each use.
  • Space weight machines at least 2 metres apart.
  • Consider greater distances (3 metres) between cardio fitness equipment where high exertion is common (e.g., treadmills, rowing machines, stationary bikes), or blocking off every other piece of equipment, or erecting barriers such as plexiglass between equipment.
  • Designate areas for the use of certain equipment (e.g., stretching areas, kettle bell areas) and for movement (e.g., heavy rope, tire flipping zone) to ensure distancing is maintained.
  • Where spotting is necessary for heavy weightlifting, participants may form small cohorts to limit direct contact with others. Spotters should wear a mask whenever possible.

Indoor Tracks

  • Width of track (and lanes) should be considered for physical distancing. Consider limiting the use of every second lane. 
  • It is suggested that runners and walkers travel in the same direction on the track. 
  • Encourage outdoor walking and running wherever possible.

Tennis, Pickle-ball, Squash and Other Racquet Courts

  • When not playing with family members, participants should play within a cohort.Cohorts/leagues must contain no more than 50 participants total.

Drop In, Pick Up Programs

  • When not playing with family members, participants should play within a cohort.
    • Cohorts/leagues must contain no more than 50 participants total.
    • Where not possible based on nature of program or service, every effort should be made by the participant to limit the number of individuals from outside their household or social circles they are in contact with.  Organizers should provide this recommendation as part of their notice of risk for participation.
  • Encourage participants to bring their own clean equipment when possible.Where equipment is rented or provided for the program, operators should clean and disinfect frequently and between uses.

Gymnastics 

  • Any equipment that is rented to, provided to or provided for the use of users of the facility must be cleaned and disinfected between each use. 
  • Activities must not be practiced within the facility if they require the use of fixed structures that cannot be cleaned and disinfected between each use.
  • Users should be asked to thoroughly wash their hands before and after using shared equipment (e.g., beams, rings).
  • Remove mats and other equipment that is torn or in disrepair as these items cannot be effectively sanitized. 
  • If gear or equipment rental is permitted, ensure it is cleaned and disinfected after being returned.

Multi-use Gymnasiums, Fieldhouses and Community Centres

  • If different activities are conducted in the gymnasium setting, cohort groups should be kept separate. Physical barriers (e.g., curtains) are recommended if possible. 
    • Participants of different activities should not mix with other activity participants.
  • Players should follow marked one-way traffic patterns when entering and exiting the gymnasium.
  • Gymnasium floors should be thoroughly cleaned at an enhanced frequency.

Saunas and Steam Rooms

  • Saunas and steam rooms are not yet permitted to open.

Tanning Services

  • If the fitness facility offers tanning services, the owner/operator should consult and adhere to the requirements outlined in the personal service settings guidance.
 Additional Guidance for Recreation Facilities

Review COVID-19 Guidance for Return to Play Sports, Recreation and Fitness.

Ventilation

  • Facility owners and operators should be aware of the importance of air quality within their centres. Ensure proper ventilation– is available, preferably with fresh air (e.g., by opening windows and doors) whenever possible. Poor ventilation in indoor spaces is associated with increased transmission of respiratory infections,.
  • It is important that HVAC systems are properly maintained and operated to fulfil their role, according to manufacturer’s instructions.        Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems may have a complementary role in decreasing transmission in indoor spaces by increasing the rate of air exchange, decreasing recirculation of air, and increasing the use of outdoor air when well maintained.
    • Facility owners may wish to consult with an expert in Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) for assistance or visiting the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention webpage for further information.
  • Post signage at the facility entrance:
  • Provide signage at the entrance and throughout access areas, such as:

Physical Distancing

  • Facilities should develop procedures that allow for uncongested drop off and pick up of participants. (e.g., drive-thru lanes for pick up and drop-off of participants, dedicated entrances and exits for incoming and outgoing sport teams). 
  • Common area chairs and tables should be stacked, roped off or removed from the area to promote physical distancing.
  • Consider using a booking system that sets out specified activity durations (e.g. 1-hour workout periods, 90-minute ice times).
  • Staff training should be held online if possible or in small groups with physical distancing measures in place.

Cleaning and Disinfection

  • Reduce the number of common surfaces that need to be touched (e.g., prop doors open, no-touch waste containers, no-touch towel dispenser, etc.).
  • Restrict access to non-essential shared equipment (e.g., vending machine, coffee maker, water fountains and bottle filling stations).
  • Remove unnecessary communal items such as candy, magazines, and complimentary phone chargers. Where disposable water cups are provided, place a garbage receptacle close by for any used cups.
  • Limit physical contact by using online payment and registration or hands-free check in. If wristbands are required, the operator should use self-applied bracelets and advise patrons to remove them once they arrive home.
  • Designate employees (custodial staff) to clean and disinfect surfaces at least twice per day, or when visibly dirty.
    • Focus on high traffic areas, frequently touched surfaces and objects, and shared equipment (e.g. door handles, elevator buttons, light switches, washrooms, countertops, handrails, computer screens and keyboards).
    • Use appropriate cleaner and disinfectant as per manufacturer’s instructions (consult the list of acceptable disinfectants).
    • Increase the frequency of cleaning of gymnasium floors to reduce the risk of transmission from shared objects (e.g., balls) and those who use wheelchairs.
  • Custodial staff should also monitor washrooms, and handwashing sinks to re-stock supplies.
  • A written cleaning and disinfecting schedule are recommended. Encourage staff to document the date and time a specific area is cleaned.

Lockers and Changerooms

  • Facilities should discourage the use of locker rooms and change rooms whenever possible.
    • Encourage participants to come dressed for their activity. 
  • Any washrooms, locker rooms, change rooms, showers or similar amenities made available to the public must be cleaned and disinfected as frequently as is necessary to maintain a sanitary condition.
  • Set capacity limits on how many people can use locker rooms, change rooms, showers or similar amenities made available to the public at the same time to ensure physical distancing.
  • Remove self-serve and common-use items such as hair dryers, cotton swabs and disposable razors.
  • Consider not providing towel service to clients. Encourage clients to bring their own towels.
    • If towel service is still offered, establish policies to ensure all laundry is handled appropriately. Provide clearly marked laundry bins and ensure dirty towels are laundered before next use. Enhanced laundering practices are not required above the usual practices in place.

Spectators

  • Spectators will be subject to gathering limits and physical distancing measures.
  • Use assigned seating where possible.
  • Spectators (excluding parents and guardians where necessary for player support) should be kept out of participant spaces (e.g. fields of play, courts, ice surfaces).
  • Cheering, singing, and yelling is strongly discouraged at this time as it presents an increased risk of spreading droplets.
  • Spectators indoors will always be required to wear a mask (unless exempted).

Food Premises in Sport & Recreation Facilities

  • Restaurants, bars, food trucks and other food or drink establishments may open if they comply with the requirements outlined in the emergency order. Facility operators should consult the OPH Guidance for Reopening Food Establishments to review guidelines and requirements for requirements.
  • Vending machines should be cleaned frequently, including, touch keypads and other associated high touch surfaces.

Additional Resources & References

Additional Resources

References

Adapted with permission from Eastern Ontario Health Unit

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Resources

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Frequently Asked Questions

 Return to Sport

 Is it safe to return to organized sports?
A safer return to sport and recreation requires everyone to be COVID Wise – including participants, coaches, and spectators. You should prepare for changes related to how activities will be organized and coordinated.

Facility operators and sport and recreation organizers (associations, coaches and volunteers) are being asked to create plans and adapt activities to ensure a safer and enjoyable return to sport and recreation for all.

It is important to note that with there are currently no settings with zero risk. The risk of transmission in any setting will increase when physical distancing, respiratory etiquette and hand hygiene practices are not followed. Activities such as sports and indoor physical activity allowed in stage 3 are the highest risk to date, which is why they were delayed into this phase. Although measures can be taken to ensure participation in sport is as safe as possible, participating athletes, spectators, coaches, referees and staff will still be at risk for exposure to COVID-19 while participating. We recommend a return to play plan which can successfully follow the mitigation strategies and provincial regulations. Individuals are responsible to make an informed decision on whether they wish to engage in the activity.

Can sports / leagues return if there is no official ‘Return to Play’ protocol for that specific sport?
Yes, sports teams and leagues are encouraged to create their own individual return to play protocol or plan following the framework and guidance from the Province of Ontario and public health tools and resources.
Is the league guidance only applicable to team sports?
Teams are limited to playing in one league. Individual athletes participating in sport are recommended to limit the number of people they are in contact with by training in cohorts or bubbles.
Are sports such as Karate and Judo allowed to return if changes are made to reduce or eliminate contact between athletes?
Contact sports such as wrestling, and judo are not permitted at this time with the current provincial stage 3 framework. Sports which involve this level of person to person contact, such as in martial arts and combative athletics, are activities with the highest risk for transmission of COVID-19. Contact in these sports is integral and since there is not a method to modify and still maintain the sport, it isn’t permitted at this time. Should athletes in these disciplines wish to train individually with no sparing, grappling or person to person engagement, OPH recommends submitting their return to play plan to https://www.ontario.ca/page/reopening-ontario
Can players join more than one league (e.g. 2 hockey leagues, a hockey league and a soccer league, or community sports league and school sports league?
While there is nothing in the provincial regulations that prohibits a participant from registering in multiple leagues, this is considered a higher risk activity that we do not recommend.
Individuals must assess their own risk and the risk to those in their social circle and household. Any individual who chooses to participate in multiple leagues is increasing their potential exposure to COVID-19 and possibly putting many other athletes at risk should they themselves become infected. The secondary consideration is the impact of any required home isolation that could result if an individual tests’ positive for COVID-19 and has many contacts through their participation in multiple sports leagues and teams. 
Are coaches able to coach more than one sport or cohort?
Coaches and officials are advised to limit their exposure and work within only one league. Though there is no technical restriction under provincial guidance, we strongly discourage individuals from coaching/being officials in multiple sports leagues at this time.
While there is nothing in the provincial regulations that prohibits a participant from registering in multiple leagues, this is considered a higher risk activity that we do not recommend.
Individuals must assess their own risk and the risk to those in their social circle and household. Any individual who chooses to participate in multiple leagues is increasing their potential exposure to COVID-19 and possibly putting many other athletes at risk should they themselves become infected. The secondary consideration is the impact of any required home isolation that could result if an individual tests’ positive for COVID-19 and has many contacts through their participation in multiple sports leagues and teams. 
Are changerooms to be avoided or closed?
The safer approach is to have athletes/participants, coaches and officials arrive ready to play, and leave directly after training or play. While access to changerooms is permitted within the Stage 3 framework, appropriate physical distancing may be challenging, and the requirements for proper cleaning and disinfection should be considered. For these reasons, facilities or operators may not provide access to these amenities.
 How can we minimize sharing of equipment or gear
  • Encourage players to bring their own equipment if possible, like gloves, balls, and helmets.
  • Limit the use of frequently touched surfaces on the field, court, or play surface.
  • Bring your own water to minimize use and touching of drinking fountains.
  • Clean and disinfect shared items between use.
  • Don’t share towels, clothing, or any items used to wipe your face or hands.
  • Launder shared pinnies/vests between uses.
  • Avoid sharing food, drink containers (e.g., coolers), and utensils.

Health & Safety

What are best practices for athletes to stay safe when participating in team or individual sports?
 It is important for residents to remain COVID wise. This helps mitigate the spread of disease through:
  • W – Wear a mask or face covering where required, or when you cannot maintain a physical distance of two metres (six feet).
  • I – Isolate yourself from others when you are sick (and get tested promptly if you have COVID-like symptoms).
  • S – Stay two metres (six feet) apart from those outside your household.
  • E – Exercise proper hand hygiene; wash your hands regularly or use sanitizer especially before touching your face.
Be aware that even when complying with safety recommendations, there is still a risk of exposure to COVID-19.
What are the best practices to create a safer return to play plan for our organization/sport?

Sport organizations are recommended to review sport specific return to play plans, Ontario guidance and regulations, and OPH guidance to return to play to inform the development of their return to play plans. Where there are discrepancies between these guidance documents, the most strict health and safety measures (e.g. highest level of mitigation possible) are recommended.

Ontario Rules for areas in Stage 3 states that sport may only be practiced or played within a facility if they do not allow for physical contact between players or have been modified to avoid physical contact between players. Note that sports that require players to make or maintain deliberate prolonged contact with others as part of the athletic activity, such as wrestling, are still not permitted under Stage 3 as contact is integral to the sport and cannot be limited. It is the responsibility of the organization to ensure that plans for returning to play has been appropriately modified. At this time there is no “approved sports” list issued or a definition of prolonged or deliberate contact by the province.

Cleaning and Disinfection

What is the best practice for cleaning uniforms and athletic attire?
We recommend changing clothes at the end of practice once you arrive home. Launder clothing in a hot water wash cycle followed by a cycle in the dryer, where appropriate.
Can our sport organization continue to share equipment that is worn by the athlete, (e.g. back catcher equipment, hockey goalie equipment, pinnie, etc.) if it is worn by one athlete and then a few days go by before it is worn by another athlete?
Any equipment that is washable should be washed between each individual use using normal laundering processes. Sports equipment that is challenging to clean must be used with caution and users must wash hands regularly before and after use. Although more commonly spread through droplets, COVID-19 can survive for up to 72 hours on surfaces.
How do we clean shared sports equipment?  Is it necessary to fully sanitize all equipment in between athletes or is it enough to have athletes wash hands in between users? 
Fitness and sports equipment should be cleaned and disinfected frequently, including between use by different individuals and at the end of play. Any equipment that is washable should be laundered or disinfected following the manufacturer’s instructions for each item. This includes free weights, weight machines, treadmills, rowing machines, stationary bikes, classroom areas, balls, rackets, gloves, and other sports gear. The Ontario Guidance for facilities for sports and recreational fitness activities during COVID-19 further recommends a dedicated worker to ensure proper cleaning and disinfection between use.
Where options are available, choose equipment with non-porous, wipeable surfaces so that it can be easily cleaned and disinfected between users.
Athletes should be encouraged to bring their own equipment and limit the use of shared equipment or shared activities unless participants engaged in the same activity are from the same household or social circle.
Are there other considerations for touch points such as floor mats or trampolines that are not easily cleaned?
Sports equipment that is challenging to clean should be avoided or used with caution. Regular frequent hand hygiene is required prior to and following use. It is important to note, that hand hygiene does not prevent the equipment from becoming contaminated by exhaled respiratory droplets. Masks should be encouraged whenever they are tolerated, such as during light activity or when not actively engaged in the sport/activity.

Where options are available, choose equipment with non-porous, wipeable surfaces so that it can be easily cleaned and disinfected between users.

Athletes should be encouraged to bring their own equipment and limit the use of shared equipment or shared activities unless participants engaged in the same activity are from the same household or social circle.
If machinery or equipment are thought to be contaminated and cannot be cleaned, they can be isolated. Isolate papers or any soft (porous) surfaces for a minimum of 24 hours before handling. After 24 hours, remove soft materials from the area and clean the hard (non-porous) surfaces per the cleaning and disinfection recommendations. Isolate hard (non-porous) surfaces that cannot be cleaned and disinfected for a minimum of 7 days before handling.)

 

Spectators / Parents

Are spectators gathering limits separate from the participant number? (example: in an arena could there be 50 spectators and 50 athletes/players?)
Yes. For all venues it is the responsibility of the facility operators and the league/sport organizers to determine the capacity for their spaces within the gathering limits established by the Province, based on the ability to maintain a minimum of 2m physical distancing.
Coaches and officials are not included within the gathering limits for participants/players
Spectators are not included within the same gathering limits as the leagues/players.
Many facilities do not allow spectators or parents inside. Can I allow parents in to help with equipment or for washroom access but ask them to wait outside after?
In an effort to limit the size of gatherings and lower the risk of transmission many operators, organizations or facilities have limited or eliminated spectators or parents from inside. Ottawa Public Health recommends that within the return to play plan for each organization or league there are strategies in place to support young athletes while respecting the facility requirements. This might be achieved via having a cohort of parent volunteers who could consistently assist with equipment, changeroom requirements or washroom access. They should have access to PPE for interactions in which physical distancing may be difficult and follow all facility policies.

Competition

Can athletes in team sports go outside of their bubble / cohort to participate in competitions?
Within the current stage 3 framework, teams playing against teams outside of their league (of 50 players) is expressly prohibited. If a league includes more than 50 players, they must be divided into groups of no more than 50 players and can only play against those within their group. This applies whether the teams are practicing or competing.
Are there any restrictions on individual athletes training cohorts and or competition participation?
Individual athletes returning to sport training and competition are recommended to reduce their risk of transmission by being COVID Wise, following the facility policies, and limiting their contacts by training and competing within local sport cohorts.

Mask Wearing

Is mask wearing required by athletes who are waiting to play if the activity is taking place outdoors? Is mask wearing required by officials or coaches while outdoors?
Ottawa Public Health recommends masks are worn in all situations where maintaining physical distance of 2 metres is difficult to maintain – indoors and outdoors. Some outdoor spaces to wear masks may include, but not limited to, benches, dugouts, and sidelines when physical distancing is not possible Athletes, coaches or officials are not required to wear a mask when engaged actively in play or training. Masks would be required when responding to a first aid or emergency where a parent or member of household is not present to respond.

Testing / Sick Protocol

One of our club members advised me she was sick and went to get tested for COVID-19 today. Are there steps I should be taking, additional cleaning, contacting athletes?
Athletes should be closely monitored for COVID-19 symptoms. It is important for everyone to be COVIDWise at all times and consistently to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Coaching Staff and participants awaiting test results who are symptomatic or have been advised to self-isolate by the local public health unit should be excluded from activities and isolate. Other staff and participants awaiting the results of others may not need to be excluded if they have not been in close contact with the individual in question. When someone tests positive, case managers from Ottawa Public Health reach out to close contacts with instructions about isolation and symptom monitoring.
My child has a mild cough or other mild symptoms, how long do I have to keep him/her home before returning to sport?
You must keep your child home from school and sports and notify the school and sport organization that your child is ill with symptoms that are consistent with COVID-19. We recommend that your child goes to a COVID-19 assessment centre or care clinic to get tested as soon as possible. Your child and household contacts (for example siblings, parents/guardians) are required to self-isolate and stay at home while awaiting test results. If the test is negative (shows your child does not have COVID-19) your child may return to school 24 hours after symptoms have resolved. If the test result is positive, follow the instructions from Ottawa Public Health. For more information contact Ottawa Public Health at 613-580-6744 or refer to the COVID-19 Assessment Centre and Care Clinics Webpage.
A student in my child’s class is waiting for test results, can I send my child to participate in his sport, or should we be isolating until we hear results?
You should carefully monitor your child for any symptoms of COVID-19. Public health officials will determine any additional steps required, including but not limited to the declaration of an outbreak and closure of classes and/or schools or sport leagues. The instructions you receive will depend on a number of factors, including the nature of the contact and adherence to the precautions that were in place. If you or your family members are told to self-isolate, please follow these instructions.

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