Sports centre offers vaccination grace period

By Merna Emara
Staff Writer
memara@fortfrances.com

The Memorial Sports Centre is now offering a 60-day grace period to youth aged 12 to 17 in order to get their vaccination requirement fulfilled before using the facility. This grace period expires on Nov. 20.

Another grace period of 60-days will be offered to anyone turning 12 in the future, to give young users the chance to get their first and second doses without halting their activities at the sportsplex. After that time, if they are not fully vaccinated, they will be denied entry.

These regulations have been approved by the town, after the province mandated that users of recreational facilities and gyms provide proof of double vaccination against COVID-19. This blanket rule was approved to avoid confusion on activities that require and do not require proof of full vaccination.

The town is also currently working on a vaccination policy for staff at the sports centre.

The sportsplex is not allowed to keep a list of names of those who provided proof of vaccination. The proof, along with a government-issued photo ID, should be presented to the staff on site every time a user enters the facility.

User groups are also not allowed to screen their own users because the town being the owner of the building has to check for proof of vaccination.

Aaron Bisson, culture and recreation manager, said screening user groups added a huge amount of work. Therefore, they hired an outside contractor who is trained in the screening process. They are going to be screening the user groups from four o’clock until 10 o’clock, Monday through Friday, and then on the weekends as well.

There is always senior staff on the premises to support young staff if they need help.

“We have a harassment and violence policy at the town that all employees are familiar with,” Bisson said. “We do have panic alarms. There are senior staff when anybody’s in the building, so it’s never like anybody’s working alone. When it’s outside business hours, Lakeland Personnel and Security will be here.”

Bisson added that the vaccination requirement is going exceptionally well at the Seniors Centre because a lot of the Seniors Centre’s patrons realize that if they are not vaccinated, that they are at a higher risk and it is more dangerous.

The Seniors Centre is short on volunteers because the proof of vaccination requirement added a lot of work to the organization, making it at risk of having reduced hours. Bisson said if anybody is out there and has some time to help out at the Seniors Centre, they can give Cindy Nobel a call.

“Most of what we are enacting here is basically provincially-mandated,” Bisson said. “It’s not something that we’ve come up with, it’s something that we are having to deal with or react to based on provincial guidelines. we’re just trying to do our best and keep everyone safe and do it as efficiently as possible with the resources that we have.”