Just how early? How does this weekend sound?
The province announced the return-to-play for all outdoor sports will begin on May 30, a move that came after sports organizations throughout the province expressed concerns with a later opening.
“Saskatchewan people have reduced the spread of COVID-19 by getting vaccinated,” Premier Scott Moe said. “Saskatchewan people are putting those kids back onto the field by doing their part, by rolling up their sleeves and sticking it to COVID.”
Outdoor sports were initially to return in Step Two of the most recent re-opening plan, a move that would have seen things held to practices and intra-team play until at least June 20.
“The reason we are able to do this, to lift these restrictions, is because Saskatchewan people are getting vaccinated,” Moe said. “And the vaccines are working. Vaccines are driving down case numbers and hospitalizations and making Saskatchewan safer.”
It’s a different climate from when sports returned to play last summer.
As an example, when Moose Jaw and District Minor Girls Fastball returned to the field in early July, the province rarely saw double-digit cases on a day-to-day basis, and the South Central region was one of the few areas to be virtually untouched by COVID-19.
Fast forward 10 months, and Saskatchewan has seen a seven-day average of 142 cases, down from 286 in mid-April, and the South Central area has seen a total of 1,065 cases.
The province also released a series of guidelines for competition, although those remain almost identical to what was seen last summer.
- Participants may not compete if they are feeling unwell.
- Players and coaches should be encouraged to screen for COVID-19 symptoms prior to arriving to practice and play.
- League play is allowed to resume, but tournaments are not. Tournaments may be included in Step 2.
- No interprovincial travel. Teams competing in regional interprovincial leagues need to contact the province’s business response team prior to beginning play.
- Capacity must be in compliance with the public health order for public outdoor gatherings for each playing surface or game area. Public outdoor gatherings are set to expand to a limit of 150 people on May 30.
- Equipment should not be shared. When helmets and bats or other equipment are shared, cleaning and disinfecting must occur between each use.
- Commonly touched equipment used in play, such as a ball, should be routinely replaced or disinfected.
- Coaches, officials, umpires, referees and players who are not on the field are not required to wear masks outdoors under the public health order, but may choose to do so.
- No shaking hands, high-fives, etc.
- Spectators not from the same household should maintain two metres of physical distancing.
- Spectators must remain in designated areas. Masks are not required to be worn outdoors under the public health order, but they may be.
- Hand sanitizer approved by Health Canada or soap and water hand washing stations should be available.
- No sharing of water bottles.
- Public washrooms, when available, are cleaned and disinfected regularly, and soap and water or hand sanitizer is available.
- Contact information of the coaches, officials and players should be recorded by the home team to help with contact tracing if there is later a confirmed case of COVID-19.
For more information be sure to visit www.saskatchewan.ca for regular updates.