B.C. soccer club says ‘horrific’ abuse of volunteers who enforce COVID-19 rules must stop

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School-aged athletes and their parents are being warned to exercise caution - after an upward trend of COVID-19 transmissions linked to recreational sports. B.C's top doctor is now urging people to rein it in or risk sports being sidelined once again. Aaron Mcarthur has more. – Oct 14, 2020

Officials from a youth soccer organization in Chilliwack, B.C., are speaking out about abuse of volunteers who help to enforce COVID-19 rules.

In a letter to parents, Chilliwack FC chair Andrea Laycock said the club is being forced to hire a security company “because the interactions at the contact tracing table and inside the facilities (have) at times been so horrific and borderline violent.”

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COVID-19 exposures in amateur sports groups – Oct 15, 2020

In an interview Wednesday with 980 CKNW, Laycock said some parents have been “verbally undressing these wonderful ladies sitting at the table doing the dirty work for us — calling them out, calling them names, blowing past them, saying that they don’t have to do this.”

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Only one supporter is allowed at games and practices for each player, she added, and everyone must provide their contact information in case someone is later found to have been exposed to COVID-19.

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The abuse directed at contact tracers, volunteers and other staff trying to enforce the rules could be considered a workplace violence issue, Laycock said.

“I just don’t understand where people think they can get off treating another person the way they do,” she said. “I understand we’re all tired of the COVID pandemic and the restrictions that come with it, but there’s just no excuse for poor behaviour.”

Parents must now read and sign the club’s policy by Thursday or their kids won’t be allowed to take part in games or training sessions.

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Dr. Bonnie Henry on rise in COVID-19 cases linked to recreational sports – Oct 13, 2020

Laycock said parents and others members of the community, including Chilliwack Mayor Ken Popove, support the club’s safety measures.

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“There’s just a handful that are ruining it for everybody. But they’re doing it in such a manner that it’s not safe for anybody to be out on the field or in contact with them.”

Read more: ‘Pare it down’: B.C.’s top doctor urges caution after COVID-19 exposures linked to sports

Earlier this month, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry asked athletes and their supporters to exercise caution amid a spike in community exposures that have been connected to recreational sports.

She said health officials have worked with sports facilities and organizations to ensure a safe return to sport, and that guidelines must prioritize players over spectators.

Read more: B.C. is cracking down on social gatherings. How will the rules be enforced?

“I know that’s a challenge for some people who want to be there to support their children, in particular, who are playing on teams. But we also know that spending time socializing or cheering with other parents and fans before, during, and following games increases risks of transmission and exposure for families,” Henry said.

Chilliwack is in the Fraser Health region, which has seen a surge in COVID-19 cases.

On Tuesday, the province reported 217 new cases of COVID-19, two-thirds of which were in Fraser Health.