Starting Monday, if a Manitoba child aged 12 to 17 wants to play an indoor sport, they must be vaccinated against COVID-19.
The Manitoba government announced the new rule in mid-November, giving parents a heads-up about the planned change.
The rule applies to all indoor recreational sports, such as hockey.
On Saturday, families flocked to the Dakota Community Centre for hockey practices and games. Many told Global News the new vaccine requirement will be welcomed.
“There’s water bottles, there’s spit and sweat and all kinds of stuff, all kinds of stuff going around, so anything to make the game a little bit safer, I’m all for it,” parent Cam Colman said.
“The more people getting vaccinated, the quicker we’re going to get through this.”
Grandparent Henry Barkosky believes since parents have had to be vaccinated to watch, it should be a no-brainer for kids to get the shot as well.
“I think the hockey parents have accepted their responsibility and become compliant, and the ones who have chosen not to, it’s their loss, their kids can’t participate,” Barkosky said.
“It’s quite a challenge to get over this pandemic, people need to step up to the plate and we could have been over this a long time ago.”
But not all parents told Global News they believe the new rule is fair.
“I’m not a huge fan,” hockey parent Joel Theissen said.
‘”Everybody has their own opinion and it’s not really fair to the kids because I think they’re kind of at the mercy of their parents’ decisions and the government’s decisions, so it’s tough,” he said.
“I think everyone is just throwing their hands up and just going along with whatever to keep going.”
In Manitoba, 70 per cent of kids aged 10 to 19 have had at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.
Some parents told Global News they hope with the new rules in place, it’ll help keep their kids’ stick on the ice.
“With all the kids getting now being able to get vaccinated, we won’t get put on lockdown and we can continue on with having some sort of normalcy for our children,” parent Leanne Smith said.
“With hockey, it’s quite an athletics sport so they’re breathing heavy and you can’t keep six feet apart while they’re playing so I’m happy with it.”
There are currently no vaccine requirements for kids under 12 years old, despite the vaccine being available to the five-to-11 age group.
But parent Debra Langhan says she still plans to have her youngest roll up her sleeve.
“My daughter is 11 and she’s actually booked for her COVID shot today — this afternoon, right after her games — so we’re good to go,” said Langhan.
Sports Manitoba says they realize this may be a challenging time for facilities in Manitoba.
“We anticipate this will place an additional burden on facility owners and operators and we encourage the public to respect that they are just doing what the Province of Manitoba – through public health – is asking them to do to keep sport open and safe.”View link »