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COVID-19: Outdoor sports added to Step 1 of Saskatchewan’s reopening roadmap

Click to play video: 'Saskatchewan’s reopening roadmap helping guide other provinces' Saskatchewan’s reopening roadmap helping guide other provinces
WATCH: Saskatchewan's COVID-19 reopening plan reached its Step 2 Two threshold on Monday. It’s part of a plan the government is supporting and is being used as a guide for other provinces – May 26, 2021

The province announced Tuesday it is adding outdoor sports to Step 1 of Saskatchewan’s reopening roadmap, originally planned to be included in Step 2.

Step 1 is set to begin Sunday and will see a number of public health measures eased, which will now include outdoor sporting activities.

Read more: COVID-19 — Step 2 of Sask. reopening begins June 20 after 70% of those 30 and older vaccinated

The province said the decision was made due to the lowered risk of COVID-19 transmission in outdoor settings and high rates of vaccination in Saskatchewan.

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“Saskatchewan people have reduced the spread of COVID-19 by getting vaccinated,” Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe said. “So, the next time you drive by a field of happy kids playing softball or football or soccer, please know that you made that possible.

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Saskatchewan Soccer eyeing return to gameplay – May 10, 2021

“Saskatchewan people are putting those kids back onto the field by doing their part, by rolling up their sleeves and sticking it to COVID.”

Come Sunday, competition and gameplay for outdoor team sports will be allowed under the following public health measures:

  • Participants may not compete if they are feeling unwell.
  • Players and coaches should be encouraged to screen for COVID-19 symptoms prior to arriving to practice and play, using the self-assessment tool at saskatchewan.ca/COVID19.
  • League play is allowed to resume; however, tournaments are not permitted at this time.  This will be revisited in Step 2 of the Re-Opening Roadmap.
  • No interprovincial travel. Teams competing in regional interprovincial leagues need to contact the Business Response Team prior to beginning play.

    Read more: Provinces shift vaccination efforts to teens and younger adults as rollout advances

  • Capacity must be in compliance with the public health order for public outdoor gatherings for each playing surface or game area. Public outdoor gatherings are set to expand to a limit of 150 people on May 30 as part of the Re-Opening Roadmap. Common areas, such as those where there are multiple playing surfaces, must also be in compliance with gathering limits in the public health order.
  • Individual and protective equipment should not be shared. When helmets and bats or other equipment are shared, cleaning and disinfecting must occur between each use.
  • Commonly touched equipment used for game play (e.g. game ball, football) is routinely replaced or disinfected during the course of practice or play.
  • Coaches, officials, umpires, referees and players who are not on the field are not required to wear masks outdoors under the public health order. However, masks may be worn if they are more comfortable with that layer of protection.
  • No shaking hands, high-fives, etc.
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Baseball Saskatchewan hoping to play games soon – May 10, 2021
  • Spectators not from the same household should maintain two metres of physical distancing.
  • Spectators must remain in designated areas. Masks are not required to be worn outdoors under the public health order, but they may be worn if spectators are more comfortable with that layer of protection.
  • Hand sanitizer approved by Health Canada (DIN or NPN) or soap and water handwashing stations should be available for participants and spectators.
  • No sharing of water bottles.
  • Public washrooms, when available, are cleaned and disinfected regularly, and soap and water or hand sanitizer is available.
  • Contact information of the coaches, officials and players should be recorded by the home team and maintained in order to assist with contact tracing for 30 days in the case of a confirmed case of COVID-19.

Read more: Sports organizations say Saskatchewan’s return-to-play date is too late

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Over the past few weeks, various sports organizations across Saskatchewan asked the province to be included in Step 1 rather than Step 2.

Mike Ramage, Baseball Sask’s executive director, said he would have liked to have had a heads up prior to the province’s announcement, but is all smiles at this point.

“Obviously, very excited and happy. Our membership has been waiting for this for quite some time now,” Ramage said.

“[After] what we did last summer, we know we can do this safely and properly and we look forward to getting back on the diamond and getting some games throughout the province.”

He said the early start is important when it comes to maintaining its membership.

Read more: COVID-19 — Saskatchewan lays out ‘roadmap’ in reopening from pandemic

“It was very important for us just because of the fact that if we did have to wait until the third week of June for Step 2, it likely could have killed about 60 per cent of our membership,” Ramage said.

“A lot of the rural areas in the province only really ever play until the end of June in many spots. If they’re not starting until June 20, they were just going to pack in their season and not even play.”

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Saskatoon Youth Soccer Inc. (SYSI) said it was relieved to learn the province’s decision to include outdoor sports in Step 1 of its re-opening plan.

“These have been challenging months for our young athletes. Our spring outdoor registrations of over 3,000 youth athletes ages five to 19 show us how hopeful our players, coaches, parents and caregivers have been to be back on the pitch and resuming competition,” SYSI said in a press release Tuesday.

“With the timeline now moving up a full three weeks, meetings will be taking place starting today to determine how quickly schedules, divisions and teams can be created and implemented.”

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