Dear SPO Members,
The safety and well-being of all of our Members has always been, and will continue to be, a top priority of Slo-Pitch Ontario Association.
We at SPO, along with our sport partners at Softball Ontario and Softball Canada, are continuously monitoring the COVID-19 situation.
We will continue to post updated advisories on our website and on our Facebook page as they become available.
We encourage all Associations and Leagues to also continue to monitor the situation on an ongoing basis and make decisions with regards to indoor practices, clinics, and team travel, along with the Health Department in your City/Region, and the School Board in your Region.
We encourage all of you to employ risk mitigation strategies regarding your programs.
Decisions regarding mass gatherings can be considered on a continuum from no changes needed, to enhanced communication to attendees, to risk mitigation strategies being employed without cancelling the event, through to postponement, or cancellation of the event.
Risk mitigation strategies could include:
- reducing the number of participants or changing the venue to prevent crowding;
- staggering arrivals and departures;
- providing packaged refreshments instead of a buffet;
- increasing access to handwashing stations;
- promoting personal protective practices (hand hygiene, respiratory etiquette, staying home if ill);
- offering virtual or live-streamed activities; and
- changing the event program to reduce high risk activities such as those that require physical contact between participants.
Since mass gathering events, their settings, and participants/attendees are generally unique, the advice varies regarding which measures should be implemented. Public health authorities and event organizers must work together to assess the situation.
How to mitigate liability risk by common sense risk management practices:
- Risk Warning: Sports programs should disseminate information to all staff, coaches, players, parents, and spectators about the coronavirus risk and practices that should be undertaken to mitigate risks. Information should be disseminated by way of email, social media, coach talks, and public announcements.
- Hygiene/Hand Washing/Touching Face/Laundering: Players and coaches should practice proper hygiene, wash hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, use alcohol-based hand sanitizer (with at least 60% alcohol), abstain from touching their face (mouth, eyes, or nose), and cover their cough or sneeze with a tissue and throw tissue in the trash. Facilities and sports organizations should provide hand washing and hand sanitizer stations and should schedule mandatory use at breaks. Carry small bottles of alcohol-based disinfectant when hand washing facilities are not available. Clothes should be laundered after all workouts.
- Healthy Practices: All players and coaches should practice healthy habits including adequate hydration to keep mucous membranes moist, consume a varied, vitamin-rich diet with sufficient vegetables and fruits, and get adequate sleep.
- Cleaning/Disinfecting: All training areas and equipment should be disinfected with disposable wipes after every use.
- Self-quarantine: Players, coaches, parents, or supporters with any symptoms should not attend any training sessions or competitions.
- Water Bottles: Water and sports drink jugs should no longer be provided by sports facilities or sports organizations. Athletes and coaches should bring their own water bottles to all team activities to help to reduce transmission risk. Individuals should take their own water bottles home each night for cleaning and sanitation. Visiting teams should also bring their own water bottles.
- No Handshakes/Celebrations: Players and coaches should refrain from handshakes, high fives, fist/elbow bumps, chest bumps, group celebrations, etc.
- Sports Organization Staff: Many sports organizations are limiting staff exposure by limiting working at the office and non-essential travel. Staff is encouraged not to come into the office if they are not feeling well. Remote working from home is promoted as an alternative.
- Returning From Out of Country: Those returning from a country with on-going COVID-19 infections should monitor their health and follow the instructions for public health officials.
- Meetings: Many sports organizations are cancelling in-person meetings and conferencing by telephone.
- Conferences: Many sports organizations are changing member conference participation from in-person to video.
- Limiting Spectator Attendance: Some sports organizations may choose to limit spectator risk by limiting attendance to essential staff and limited family members.
Another preventative measure that travelling teams should take is to contact the tournament’s organizers to learn if it has taken preventative measures to minimize exposure to health risks. As well, teams should contact the provincial, state or municipal health authorities in the Region where teams will play and stay to ensure there are no respiratory virus health warnings.
For more information on how to stay safe during team travel, please review these links:
- Public Health Ontario
- Health Canada - Coronavirus Outbreak Update
- World Health Organization - Coronavirus
- World Health Organization - Health for Mass Gatherings
Tom Buchan, Chief Executive Officer of Slo-Pitch Ontario