Dr. Charles Gardner, Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit’s Medical Officer of Health, has updated his letter of instruction to businesses in the health unit’s medical region.

In December, a vaccination policy for everyone 12 and older will need to be put in place for indoor arenas or facilities used for organized sports and recreational fitness activities. Proof of having received at least one dose of a Health Canada-approved vaccine will be required for entry. By February, proof of having received two shots will be needed. 

Recreational settings used within a health care provide setting and health care entity for the purposes of rehabilitation, as well as recreational and sport activities within schools, school boards, private schools, child care settings and children camps are exempt from the new instructions.

Gardner cites “increasing community transmission” as the reason.

These new rules are in addition to what’s been put in place by the province.

“Over a matter of weeks, we have seen a dramatic increase in confirmed cases of COVID-19 in workplaces and public settings throughout Simcoe Muskoka, and we must take additional measures to curtail the rising rate of transmission,” Gardner says. “A key factor contributing to transmission in businesses and organizations is close contact between individuals, which then leads to spread of the disease easily to individuals within households, particularly if individuals are not fully vaccinated.”

With the COVID-19 vaccine now available to everyone 12 and older, the letter has been updated to recognize that. Gardner says children will have a three-month grace period from their 12th birthday to get vaccinated. 

Gardner says the updated letter for businesses and organizations will clarify what they can do to help reduce the spread. He goes on to say the letter gives better instruction on:

  • Active screening of members of the public, obtaining contact information and greater instruction on physical distancing for specific businesses and organizations.
  • Exemptions to physical distancing as noted in the regulation businesses and organizations including places that require proof of vaccination (POV) or may opt-in for POV.
  • Persons with COVID-19 symptoms, or who have been identified as a close contact, or who fail their active screening questions.

Gardner is also updating the letter for owners, operators, and persons responsible for indoor recreational sports and fitness activities.