As of Sept. 22, the Province of Ontario requires people to be fully vaccinated to access certain public settings, including recreation centres.
That includes the Tillsonburg Community Centre, where visitors and program patrons must provide proof of full vaccination (vaccine receipt of two shots of a government-approved vaccine) as well as photo identity (driver’s licence or health card) as required by the province.
There are exceptions listed below for youth in organized sports, coaches and volunteers, as well for people with proof of medical exemption.
After Sept. 22, if you forget or otherwise fail to provide proof of vaccination, you will not be allowed to enter the facility. Town staff cannot override this policy.
All visitors to the community centre must also wear a mask while inside the facility, unless actively exercising.
Arguing with staff or trying to intimidate staff is not acceptable behaviour and may result in being banned from the facility.
The Tillsonburg Community Centre will not retain any vaccination information provided in accordance with the law.
If you need to cancel your membership, program registration or rental, contact the Community Centre at 519-688-9011.
“I’ve been inundated with texts and emails regarding some concerns at the Community Centre regarding the COVID policy,” said Coun. Deb Gilvesy at the Sept. 13 town council meeting, “and I’d like to share them in a public forum.
“One is the entry gathering,” said Gilvesy. “The doors are locked and groups are congregating to be let in. So there are concerns that because they’re congregating that actually it could increase the spread of COVID. Other arenas or similar venues you can just walk in and they have self-reporting systems where you write your name down and your phone number. I’ve received multiple texts in that regard.
“The showers seem to be a big contention because at other arenas all the showers are open and Tillsonburg only has one available (per dressing room).
“These are arenas that are operating differently that are within the same health region, so I don’t understand why there is a different interpretation.”
Gilvesy asked whether the town has a policy if someone refuses to disclose their vaccination status.
“We’re scrambling like mad, we’re seeing what our peers are doing as well,” said Chris Baird, director of Recreation, Culture and Parks. “It just boils right down to ‘if you can’t prove your vaccination, you will not be permitted entry.’ And we’re hoping that doesn’t result in adverse behaviour or anger or that sort of thing. We do want to ensure all of our staff that are working in a martialing capacity or those staff working in the community centre that they have the right to work in a safe environment, harassment free. So we will be taking this very seriously.”
There is also the provincial requirement to be fully vaccinated for 14 days prior to being admitted entry, noted Mayor Stephen Molnar.
The ‘vaccine passports’ required for facilities used for sports (not including youth), fitness activities, personal fitness and gyms, are required for restaurants and bars (indoors), nightclubs (including outdoor areas), meeting and event spaces, such as banquet halls and conference/convention centres, concerts, music festivals, theatres and cinemas.
“That’s where it’s an excellent reminder to the vast, vast majority of people who have currently been vaccinated is that ‘make sure that you have … a physical copy of proof of vaccination,” said Molnar. “I carry mine both on my phone digitally and paper copies as well.”
Coun. Chris Parker asked about vaccination requirements when the community centre is used as an emergency relief shelter.
“I would suspect with consultation with public health and/or the province … in the event of a declared emergency, that we would get some formal clarification,” said Baird, “to how we would provide services to our community in the event of an emergency.”
The double vaccination requirement is not necessary for grocery stores or medical supplies, noted Molnar.
“I think it’s incumbent on our team to ensure that your questions and the community’s questions are answered accurately, so hopefully we can follow up.”
Unvaccinated youth (under 18) may enter the Tillsonburg Community Centre if the purpose of their visit is solely to participate in an organized sport, in accordance with guidance published by the Ministry of Health on its website.
An indoor organized sport means training, practices, games and competitions. Examples of an organized sport for which the exemption applies include: sports leagues, organized pick-up sports, dance classes, martial arts, and swimming classes.
Youth (12-plus) who are using a gym or other area with exercise equipment or weights must show proof of vaccination unless their gym visit is part of an organized sport.
By law, anyone accompanying the athlete as a spectator or guardian must show proof of vaccination and proof of identity if they are 12 years of age or older.
Proof of identification and proof of being fully vaccinated is not required for workers or volunteers, including coaches and officials. However, sports associations may implement vaccine requirements.
Anyone claiming a medical exemption must provide a written document, completed and supplied by a physician or registered nurse, that sets out a documented medical reason for not being fully vaccinated against COVID-19, and the effective time period for the medical reason.