October 8, 2020
Dear Sport Partners,
Sport Manitoba received the following information from Public Health and we ask that you please distribute it as widely as possible within your networks, including facilities and community centres.
People engage in a number of different types of recreational activities on a regular basis. Public health officials recognize the importance of physical activity in one’s everyday life and want to encourage all Manitobans to find the safest ways to remain physically active during this pandemic. However, the risk of spreading COVID19 in those who participate in recreational activities is a valid concern.
Different sports have different levels of risk. For example, playing table tennis with someone where physical distancing can be maintained for the entire game likely represents a lower risk activity. Alternatively, a hockey game with ongoing interactions throughout the game would represent a higher risk activity. Regardless of time, a single interaction of less than two metres/six feet (such as a body check) could potentially lead to the transmission of COVID-19.
Please be advised the definition of a close contact that is used in public health includes:
1. close contact (within two metres/six feet) with a confirmed or probable case someone for 15 minutes or more;
2. has had direct contact with infectious body fluids of a probable or confirmed case regardless of contact time.
It is important to note that if a person who tested positive for COVID-19 was involved in a recreational activity during their communicable period, public health investigations would include everyone involved in that event. This includes before, during and after the event, and would involve players, coaches, spectators, officials and anyone else who may be at risk.
Following the risk assessment, public health may determine there was zero risk and there would be no need for anyone to self-isolate (quarantine). Or, the risk assessment could determine that all those involved would be at risk and would have to self-isolate (quarantine) for 14 days.
A game is played where physical distancing was practiced before and after the game. However players awaiting their turn to actively participate (sitting on the bench) did not physically distance during the game. A player subsequently becomes COVID-19 positive and it was determined that during the communicable period they participated in the game. Public health may deem all those on the COVID-19 positive player’s team, including coaches and affiliated staff, to be close contacts and therefore everyone may have to quarantine.
It’s important to note that the use of a mask would not affect the public health investigations. Public health recommends (and sometimes requires) using a mask to help lower the risk of transmission. But because the science is still evolving, it is not yet known if a mask has more benefit for others or the person wearing the mask. In addition, there is no way to know if someone used their mask properly. This means public health can not be certain that wearing a mask has provided sufficient protection to lower the risk assessment. This doesn’t take away from the advice to wear masks to lower everyone’s risk.
As the risk of COVID-19 can never be zero we must weigh the benefits and risks in participating in recreational activities. Public health officials have made recommendations to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 for those involved in sport. For more information, visit: https://www.gov.mb.ca/.../coron.../activities-guidelines.pdf
These guidelines have been developed to lower the risk of COVID-19 as much as possible, given the risks that will continue to exist in group physical activities. Following the guidelines is essential to lower everyone’s risk of being infected. However, even if all guidelines are followed, there may still be times when public health will consider an exposure to be high enough risk that participants will be required to self-isolate (quarantine).
For accurate, timely information on COVID-19, you can also visit Manitoba.ca/covid19.
Jeff Hnatiuk | President & CEO
Janet McMahon | Director of Sport