British Columbia

Outdoor and indoor adult team sports suspended as COVID-19 spreads in B.C.

All indoor and outdoor adult team sports are now prohibited in B.C. and children's programs have returned to earlier, more restrictive guidelines in response to the unchecked spread of COVID-19.

News comes after Dr. Bonnie Henry says travel by old timers' hockey team led to dozens of cases

Hockey is among the sports covered in B.C.'s new ban on indoor adult team sports. (PhotoStock10/Shutterstock)

All indoor and outdoor adult team sports are now prohibited in B.C. and children's programs have returned to earlier, more restrictive guidelines in response to the unchecked spread of COVID-19.

The new restrictions were announced Wednesday and were clarified on Thursday.

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said the activities are too dangerous when B.C.'s COVID-19 caseload is continuing to grow rapidly and hospitalizations are reaching record levels.

"We continue to see that ... group activities — whether for fitness or team sports — are much higher risk right now," Henry said in a written statement.

The list of suspended adult sports include:

  • Basketball
  • Cheerleading
  • Combat sports
  • Floor hockey
  • Floor ringette
  • Road hockey
  • Ice hockey
  • Ringette
  • Martial arts
  • Netball
  • Team skating
  • Soccer
  • Volleyball
  • Indoor bowling
  • Lawn bowling
  • Curling
  • Lacrosse
  • Hockey
  • Ultimate
  • Rugby 
  • Football
  • Baseball
  • Softball


The full order can be read here.

Sports programs for children will have to return to more restrictive measure first implemented earlier this year, which include keeping a distance of two metres from other people, small groups, no spectators, modified games and no travel.

However, youth dance classes are now allowed to resume, provided the company has a COVID-19 safety plan in place.

Adult hockey team travels to Alberta

The news comes after Henry revealed that an old timers' hockey team from the Interior recently travelled to Alberta for games, in defiance of a public health order.

Some team members came back with COVID-19 and exposed their family members and co-workers, leading to "several dozen" new cases in the community, Henry said.

Meanwhile on Wednesday, Henry expanded the list of indoor group fitness activities that are considered high intensity and high risk.

Aerobics, boot camps and circuit training are now prohibited, along with hot yoga, spin classes and high-intensity interval training.

Lower intensity activities like yoga, Pilates, dance classes, light weightlifting and tai chi are currently suspended until new safety guidelines are released. Henry said those guidelines are expected next week.

Gyms that offer individual workouts or personal training can remain open as long as COVID-19 safety plans are in place.

Confusion over orders

The new orders left some athletes and businesses frustrated over a perceived lack of clarity.

Mike Gellard, the executive vice president for CanLan Ice Sports in Burnaby, says at least 400 hockey teams have been affected which include thousands of individual players.

"There certainly has been a lot of confusion … it took us a while to get it sorted out," Gellard said. 

Gellard said while the new orders are devastating for players, they are a "safety-first" organization. 

"We've done all kinds of things when it comes to safety protocols ... [but] we have to hear what Bonnie Henry has to say."

Salma Mitha, a pickleball player in North Vancouver, B.C., is one of the few adult athletes whose sport has been unaffected by the orders — but she's not sure how long that'll last. 

"From week to week, we don't know if we can go in or stay out, so we keep changing plans," Mitha said. 

With files from Zahra Premji


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