The Edmonton Sport Council is calling on Alberta Health to use stronger language to enforce a one-cohort limit for people involved in athletics.
Gary Shelton, executive director for the council, said he wants to see a change in recommendations around how many different sports Albertans can play. He said Alberta Health guidelines currently say individuals “should” limit themselves to one sport or athletic cohort.
That should be changed to “must,” Shelton said.
“There is a chance that the sector could be shut down again if COVID continues to spread, right? We don’t want that.”
He said even if the government doesn’t have the resources to enforce the mandatory order, it would deter people from joining multiple cohorts. He pointed to mask usage rising among Edmontonians when it became an order to wear them in public.
“Winter’s coming and it’s not going to be as easy to be as active outside in the winter months,” said Shelton. “We really need to protect our indoor participation opportunities.”
Current cohort guidelines suggest individuals who interact with each other in close proximity should form cohorts of 50 or less. That number includes coaches, staff and officials. They also recommend Albertans limit the number of cohorts they join.
Alberta Health Spokesman Tom McMillan said each family needs to decide what level of risk they are willing to take.
“Many different factors can impact the safety and risk of exposure that is faced by participating in a sport or activity. For example, one very large cohort featuring all ‘new’ individuals could potentially pose more of a risk than multiple cohorts that are very small and contain a large number of the same individuals,” said McMillan in an email.
He said the government continues to monitor the spread of COVID-19 and will make changes to guidelines and regulations if necessary.
Shelton said many sports leagues have chosen not to run a season until the virus subsides and others have chosen to move forward with reduced capacity.
“They just can’t make a go of it,” said Shelton. “I believe that some will not make it through this. Are we in this for the short term or the long term? I would hope we’re in the for the long term.”