As sports are slowly allowed to resume across Quebec, players are trying to navigate the province’s muddied guidelines on masking, and sports leagues decry public health measures that allow teams to practise but not play games.
Children and youths under 18 were allowed to return to indoor sports on Jan. 31, for practices only, with gatherings limited to 25 people. The province has said masks must be worn at all times, for all ages, if a sport is taking place in a school or as an extracurricular activity.
“It does make it a lot harder to pursue what we’re doing during practice,” said St. Thomas High School student Luka-Antonio Ferraro. “We wear them, but it’s tough.”
Student Luka-Antonio Ferraro says it’s tough shooting hoops at his school while wearing a mask. The province has said masks must be worn at all times for all ages if a sport is taking place in a school or as an extracurricular activity. (Kwabena Oduro/CBC News)
However, if the sport is taking place in a public space, such as a municipal facility, the new rules depend on the age of the participants: children under the age of 10 are not required to wear a mask. For all those 10 and up, a mask is mandatory at all times, except during an intense period of play, the Health Ministry said this week.
When asked to clarify the rules last week, interim director of public health Dr. Luc Boileau said that he recommends wearing the mask at all times, “but if there are very intense activities, it is understandable that it may not be worn.”
“It is obvious that if you are very hot, you are doing an intense sport, you are on the ice, for example, you could take off the mask if you feel more comfortable taking it off,” said Boileau.
“But when you’re on the bench […] what you have to do is continue to wear your mask as much as possible,” he said, without making any distinction based on age.
If you are very hot, you are doing an intense sport, you are on the ice … you could take off the mask.– Interim director of public health Dr. Luc Boileau
Indoor sports for adults can resume as of Feb. 14, also with a limit of 25 people and for practices only.
Games, competitions and tournaments are still not allowed, although coaches and league organizers say that’s the only way adult sports leagues can run.
“You’re not getting together for practices to play in these leagues, and I think that’s where the frustration lies,” said Dwight Walton, a former professional basketball player and assistant basketball coach at Concordia University.
“If you’re not an elite athlete, you basically have to stay home … and twiddle your thumbs.”
CEGEP and university teams are also waiting to hear when they can return to game action. The Quebec Student Sports Federation says it’s lobbying the government to start the season as soon as possible so athletes can compete at the highest level.
Basketball coach Tenicha Gittens says she’s preparing her players as best as she can so that when Quebec OKs competitions, they’re ready. (Kwabena Oduro/CBC News)
Tenicha Gittens, head coach of the women’s basketball team at Concordia, says the …….