No more COVID-19 vaccination requirements in Milton, Oakville and Burlington for indoor sports and fitness

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Published February 25, 2022 at 7:49 pm

Halton’s top medical official has withdrawn health instructions for indoor sports and recreation facilities that have been in place for most of the fall and winter.

Days ahead of the province likely lifting proof-of-vaccination requirements for all indoor settings, Dr. Hamidah Meghani has said that Burlington, Halton Hills, Milton and Oakville have enough of a handle on COVID-19 spread to do the same already. As of 3 p.m. on Friday (Feb. 25), the vaccination proof is no longer required in the region for the indoor areas of facilities used for sports and recreational fitness activities. The direction also applies to
waterparks and facilities where personal physical fitness trainers provide instruction.

“Current trends in the spread of COVID-19 within Halton Region, and in related demands on health system
capacity, are similar to those now experienced across Ontario,” said Dr. Meghani, who is the medical officer of health for Halton Region. “That being the case, current public health measures in Halton Region related to proof of vaccination can align with provincial measures. This letter of instruction imposing added requirements, effective November 26, 2021, is therefore no longer necessary and shall be rescinded.”

The Nov. 26 date refers to when a proof-of-vaccination edict for all rec facility patrons age 12 and over went into effect. It amended public health protections that Dr. Meghani put in place on Oct. 19.

Dr. Meghani emphasized that the reduced protections and precautions do not mean that participants in organized sports and group fitness activities do not face an increased risk of COVID-19 transmission. She emphasized that an individual or family’s acceptance risk comes with the responsibility of being vaccinated against COVID-19, espeically if one is eligible for a third dose.

“While we are at an important transition point in our provincial and local response to COVID-19, learning to
live with its continuing presence in our communities for the foreseeable future, organized sports and
recreational fitness activities in groups without masking or physical distancing … do present an increased risk of COVID-19 transmission,” Dr. Meghani wrote. ” I therefore continue to emphasize the importance of vaccination against COVID-19, including third (“booster”) doses for all who are eligible. There is clear evidence that two doses of a Health Canada-approved COVID-19 vaccine provide strong protection against severe disease, hospitalization and death
(including from the Omicron-variant). Three doses protect against disease transmission.”

Ninety-one per cent of the region’s residents who are at least 12 years old have two doses. The third-dose uptake among the 18-and-up adult population is also at 61 per cent.

There were 60 new COVID-19 cases reported in Halton on Friday. However, indicators from wastewater surveillance show the amount of COVID in the water is either stable or decreasing in parts of the region. The positivity rate over the last seven days is 10.7 per cent, from just more than 2,400 tests.

Halton Region’s mass vaccination clinics are now accepting walk-ins from youths age 12 to 17 who are seeking a third dose. Residents can get their third dose six months (168 days) after their second dose. They must be 12 years of age at the time of their third dose.

Three clinics are also taking walk-ins for children aged five to 11.

Dr. Meghani’s full letter, with links to COVID-19 resources for businesses, sector-specific guidelines from Ministry of Health and workplace resources about preventing COVID-19 provided by the Ministry of Labour, is accessible at halton.ca.

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