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B.C.'s Dr. Henry says restrictions on youth sports could be loosened by end of April

Last Updated Mar 23, 2021 at 6:25 am PDT

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Summary

Dr. Bonnie Henry says restrictions could soon be loosened around youth sports 'if things go well'

B.C.'s top doctor says there 'have been several instances' of COVID-19 transmission, clusters around youth sports

Petition calls on B.C. to allow kids to play games and for parents to be allowed to watch youth sports again

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – With COVID-19 restrictions largely still in place across B.C., Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry offered some hope to parents who want to see their kids allowed to play games in youth sports again.

Henry says restrictions could be loosened by the end of April — but that’s only “if things go well.”

“As you know right now … we don’t have games where people are moving around the province to play games,” she explained

However, she notes that there “have been several instances” of COVID-19 clusters and transmission associated to youth sports in the community.

Not calling any particular league or sport out, she says “this happened on several occasions, where it’s led to … dozens of infections.”

Those infections, she explains, spill into other parts of people’s lives, including work and school.

“These are concerning. Right now, we’re not seeing rapidly explosive outbreaks, with the exception of some work environments where it’s really difficult for people to maintain the safety protocols that are in place,” Henry said.

“But we are seeing lots of small transmission events that lead to more, lead to next chains and next chains — that makes it very challenging to break those chains of transmission. That’s why we’re saying, once again, we need to go back to doing things where it’s safe, outside, keeping numbers small so that you’re not risking that transmission that will lead to somebody else ending up in hospital,” she added.

Petition pushes for loosening of youth sports restrictions

Despite the prospect that youth sports could make a full comeback in weeks time, a petition is pushing to have restrictions loosened.

The petition — which had just more than 240 signatures as of Tuesday morning — was started by a parent and coach who’s wondering why kids can only practice — not play games — and parents can’t watch, given that they’re allowed to go to Costco and a restaurant before dropping their kids at the field.

“So they’ve gone through all these stores, these shopping malls, but they get to the ball field or the soccer pitch and they can’t leave the car to walk their kid out to the practice,” said Brent Larsen.

In addition to allowing games, the petition also calls for parents to be allowed along the sidelines.

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Larsen says he’s reached out to his local politicians and even Dr. Henry’s office to ask what exactly the difference is between practicing a sport and actually playing it.

“That started to concern me and I thought, well, the politicians aren’t listening to me, Dr. Henry doesn’t seem to be listening to me, so I’m going to take it to friends out there and start a petition,” he explained.

The local father claims sports leagues “have proven they can safely and responsibly play sports while keeping the community safe.”

Despite word that restrictions around youth sports could be loosened in about a month’s time, Larsen says planning, scheduling, and other things can’t be done overnight.

“For baseball, everyone’s setting schedules, we’re working towards something. They’ve got to reset schedules. The volunteers are going through so much stress. The leagues, a lot of them don’t have money from last year so a lot of the fees are being carried over and the kids are going to lose interest,” he told NEWS 1130. “So, even if it’s April, why is it April? And why can kids practice but they can’t play? I really want to see the data to show one or the other. I assume there’s data behind this decision whether it’s April or not April. I think as citizens we deserve to see why one and not the other.”

-With files from Jonathan Szekeres