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Team sports, fitness classes could resume in Halton under Ontario’s new COVID-19 framework

CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Halton Region’s medical officer of health expects limits on team sports and fitness classes to change when Ontario’s new COVID-19 response framework “replaces” her recommendations to suspend the activities.

In a release on Wednesday, Dr. Hamidah Meghani said Halton is now listed in the “protect” level of the Doug Ford government’s new regional system based on the latest coronavirus numbers from public health.

Under the revised measures team sports could resume with modifications – including no physical contact and limits of 50 people per league.

Read more: Coronavirus: Burlington, Ont. puts pause on games at sports fields and facilities

Exercise and fitness classes would also be able to proceed with limits of 10 people per room indoors and 25 outdoors. At least three metres of distance will be required for participants.

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“Levels will be confirmed by the province on Friday, Nov. 6 and become effective on Saturday, Nov. 7 at 12:01 a.m.,” Meghani said in her statement.

The medical officer urged residents in mid-October to suspend activities at indoor fitness classes and refrain from joining scrimmages or games with sports teams following an increase in virus cases linked to group activities.

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However, Meghani’s advice was not mandatory and just a plea to the community to help stop cases from rising in Halton.

Despite the potential move into the province’s new system at the end of the week, Meghani is still recommending limiting close contact to just household members and reducing non-essential activities outside of the home.

Burlington and Oakville opted to follow the medical officer’s advice putting a pause on games inside sports facilities and on outdoor sports fields in mid-October.

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The pause also included city-run gyms, aquatics and recreational skating.

The stoppages are still in effect and are expected to be addressed by both municipalities on Friday.

Burlington Mayor Marianne Meed Ward told Global News on Monday that the city has “always followed” the advice of the region’s medical officer.

Read more: Halton officials call for ‘targeted’ approach as province considers new COVID-19 restrictions

Meed Ward said the city’s move to shut down classes and team play were a “focused and targeted” measure after the outbreak at SPINCO in Hamilton proved fitness classes could be a source of transmission.

“We pushed pause and we will review those and open those back up as new evidence changes or as we get better guidelines for how to keep those activities safe,” Meed Ward said.

Halton region had 283 active COVID-19 cases as of Wednesday with Oakville accounting for 131 and Burlington at 53.

Public health says to date the region has had two outbreaks tied to sports and fitness activities but would not disclose further details due to privacy reasons.