Regina rink hockey players will need more than their sticks and jerseys to hit the ice this winter. From November 1, they will also need proof of their COVID-19 vaccination or a recent negative test.
Regina has required proof of vaccination or a negative test to access most of the city’s facilities since September. On Monday morning, the board voted to extend this requirement to arenas as well.
“Up to this point, we were following the provincial order of public health,” said Regina Mayor Sandra Masters. “We are simply extending the proof of vaccination required to enter any arena in the city.”
Although Regina’s vaccination rate is slightly above the provincial average, Masters argued that requiring proof of vaccination in arenas will add another layer of protection for city residents, especially those who are too young to be vaccinated.
“The idea is that we need to create a safe environment in order to participate in activities that we know are good for our physical and mental health,” she said. “The idea is to reduce unwarranted risks, to stop the spread of the virus.”
Masters said the Regina Exhibition Association Ltd. (REAL) – which operates the Co-Operators Center and the Brandt Center – was prepared to follow the city’s lead in this decision.
Before the vote, the nine board members present heard from Dr Kieran Conway, a family physician in Regina.
He said he hopes the new requirement will influence other cities – and even the province – to do the same.
“I think what drove the provincial government to go with proof of vaccination and all these other public health measures was other groups – city governments, our professional football club – that did it in first, ”he said.
Erin Schmuland, mother of three sons who are passionate about hockey too young to be vaccinated, also expressed support for the new policy.
“I think this has the potential to have a significant impact on the ability of our community to get through this fourth wave,” she said.
Schmuland said parents were having difficulty sending their children to play hockey this year.
“We entered this hockey season with the harsh reality of exposing our unvaccinated children to unmasked athletes from unvaccinated homes,” she said.
Children under 12, who are not yet eligible for any COVID-19 vaccine in Canada, are exempt from the new requirement.
People who enter arenas when they are used as vaccination clinics or as warm-up stations during the winter will also be exempt.