Coaches, officials and volunteers must be fully vaccinated inside Ottawa sports facilities

The return to organized sports outdoors was cautiously welcomed by parents like Carolyn Fyffe.

"We know the outdoors is a lot safer so playing soccer this summer has been fantastic," said Fyffe. Her 10-year-old son has been playing soccer at the Hornets Nest in Gloucester.

But as the temperature drops, soon youth sports will head indoors. In a move to protect unvaccinated children and youth, Ottawa Public Health’s medical officer of health issued a new vaccine requirement.

Coaches, volunteers and officials will need more than just a negative rapid test to enter an indoor sports or recreational facility. Starting Oct. 9, they’ll need to show proof they are fully vaccinated.

"Having that measure ensures our kids are protected until we can get the approval for the under 12's to get vaccinated as well,” said Fyffe. 

 The order goes into effect at 12:01 a.m. Saturday. Public health says the increased measure is a crucial element to mitigating the risk of COVID-19 transmission in closed spaces, close contact and crowded places found at indoor sports.  

"A crucial element to mitigating the risk COVID-19 poses to our community is high vaccination rates. With a resurgence in cases, fuelled by the Delta variant, that is leading to children and youth missing school due to isolation for high-risk contacts, it is important to implement measures to continue to keep our communities safe," said Dr. Vera Etches in a statement. 

"We were preparing for this anyways,” said Marc Raymond, the president of Gloucester Hornets Soccer Club. The mandate has already in the works for the club and its members as they prepare to move into the dome for winter soccer beginning Oct. 18.

"In our last board meeting, we passed a motion for coaches, volunteers and referees to be vaccinated,” he said.

Club members and coaches adding there’s been little pushback.

"It’s really high risk for us to go inside, it’s better for us to mitigate that risk of transmission,” said coach Peter Mapenderie. "This is the game that we love and we are prepared to do what it takes we ensure everyone is safe."

 As for Fyffe, this latest announcement is a sense of relief.

 "I know I as a parent feel a lot safer sending my child into an indoor space," she said.

Those who want to learn more about Ottawa's new directive, a town hall hosted by Ottawa Public Health and the Ottawa Sports Council is scheduled for Friday afternoon. Registration can be found on the Ottawa Public Health website.