First off, I apologize in advance for the length of this email as we have been adding to it every day over the last few days as new information has been coming our way. The most current updates were added after a Town Hall meeting tonight, Tuesday the 1st, in which we were participants. This town hall had a number of government ministers on the call as well as Dr. Henshaw the chief medical officer of Alberta.
We would like to say thank you for those of you who filled out our survey recently as it pertained to your club and the current COVID situation. It has provided Karate Alberta with very valuable insight into how our programs have been making things work over the last few months. Please feel free to share with any of your members as you see fit.
The following results are a quick summary of the survey (as of 01 December) with complete finding available at a later date (with hopefully more clubs completing it):
- Participating Clubs/Dojos: 16
- Active Dojos: 14
- Inactive: 2
- Total Athletes: 769
- Total Training Sessions: 11,774
- Total Athlete COVID Cases: 0
- Total cases of COVID Spread resulting in KA Club/Dojo activities: 0
Many sports have similar if not the exact same type of results that we do but as a collective everyone should be pretty proud of the safe manner in which you were able to deliver your programming – nearly 12,000 practise sessions with a zero rate of transmission – well done by everyone who was able to get up and running.
The results were not unexpected as most sport organizations that we know of have done a stellar job in making their environment a safe place to participate in the sport they love. That being said the Karate Alberta board of directors as a provincial sport organization have made the decision not to pursue an organization wide exemption at this time. The requirements, as they currently stand, would be quite difficult to meet by any amateur sporting club in an area of the province that resides in the targeted enhanced measures zone who are required to train or compete in an indoor setting. Those requirements are listed below and if anyone of our clubs or dojos would like to pursue an exemption with the CMO of Alberta we would be happy to offer our support as you pursue this path. To conceptualize the requirements for an exemption a good model to reference would be the recent “NHL Bubble” that occurred in Edmonton:
“Given the seriousness of Alberta’s current COVID-19 situation and the proposed duration of the measures (to be reviewed by December 15), exemption applications for sport will only be considered for those entities that can demonstrate adherence to the Guidance for Professional Sporting Events. This includes:
- Enforcing a mandatory 14-day “quarantine-in” procedure before any practice or play occurs and using a bubble model for the duration of the event.
- Access to dedicated facilities and transportation that are not open to the general public.
- Conducting daily health checks on all members of the team, and private testing team members upon entry into the bubble and every five days throughout events.
- Conducting a comprehensive risk assessment plan and implementing risk mitigation and controls before play begins.
- Completed plans can be sent to Alberta Health via Biz Connect at BizConnect@gov.ab.ca.”
Notwithstanding the above and the situation that we all find ourselves in please see some of the other programs that have been made available to our clubs and related businesses. There has been additional support rolled out for clubs, businesses and non-profits, and we would encourage all those that meet the criteria to apply. The minister of small business, also on the call tonight, reiterated his request a number of times for small business and non-profits that qualify to apply, as follows:
“Alberta Small and Medium Enterprise Relaunch Grant
Alberta Jobs, Economy and Innovation’s Small and Medium Enterprise Relaunch Grant offers financial assistance to Alberta businesses, cooperatives, and non-profit organizations that were ordered to close or curtail operations, and that experienced a revenue reduction of at least 40%, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Eligible organizations can apply for 15% of their pre-COVID-19 monthly revenue, up to a maximum of $5,000 in funding.
Businesses, cooperatives and non-profits can use these funds as they see fit to help offset a portion of their relaunch costs, such as implementing measures to minimize the risk of virus transmission, which could include:
- physical barriers
- purchasing personal protective equipment and disinfecting supplies
- paying rent and employee wages
- replacing inventory and more
Businesses, cooperatives and non-profit organizations that were ordered to close or curtail operations as a result of public health orders issued by Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health may be eligible.
Applications will be open until March 31, 2021 unless otherwise communicated.
Please visit www.alberta.ca/sme-relaunch-grant.aspx for more information.”
Please note that clubs/dojos in the targeted measures locations can still operate but under the conditions of the targeted measures and CMOH Orders with key requirements met. These points below reference the health orders for the current period November 27th, until December 15th 2020 in the affected regions:
- Cohort training is still suspended.
- Part 4 (b) of CMOH Order 39-2020 is the section of the document that deals with sport with relevant points listed here.
- Section 23 all persons are prohibited from participating in an indoor physical activity with persons who are not members of their household.
- Section 25 states that section 23 of this order does not prevent a person from participating in an indoor physical activity under the guidance or instruction of one other person who is the person’s coach or trainer.
- Section 27 notes that all persons are prohibited from participating in an outdoor group physical activity of more than 10 persons.
- Section 28 mentions that section 27 does not apply to a group of physical activity in which all persons are members of the same household.
- Appendix A of the order in section 3 notes that “recreation” businesses must limit capacity to the greater of two numbers: 25% of fire code capacity or minimum of 5. This is also covered in section 10 of CMOH Order 39-2020. Participants engaging in low-intensity physical activity and their coaches/trainers must remain at minimum 2m distanced while participants engaging in high-intensity activity must remain at 3m distanced – karate is considered a high-intensity physical activity regardless of the specific activities you are engaging in.
- Clubs & Dojos MUST ensure that no gatherings of 2 or more individuals take place before, during or after an individual training session.
- The facilities you use may or may not choose to allow these sporting activities to take place and may also have more stringent measures of their own in place that would also need to be adhered to.
How do you interpret this in the context of your club or your dojo and what does that mean for running programs in your dojo? You can run one-on-one training meaning sensei and one student. You would need a coach/sensei with each of your athletes. Each of these coach/athlete pairings need to remain physically distanced at all times which means 3m per person for high intensity exercise. If you own your building/studio you can only be operating at 25% capacity (as per fire code) while also ensuring that participants are all distanced at 3m a part (participants include coaches and athletes all). One exception would be that two students could work with the same sensei if they are siblings or from the same household but it is important anyone else in the dojo has their own instructor. What are the max numbers of coach/athlete pairings you can have going at the same time – there are none really; none beyond the above mentioned max capacity numbers as well as allowable space required for each and every participant (instructors included to remain physically distanced). You would need to ensure that people are coming and separately and that there are no group (anything two or more) gatherings at anytime associated with the programming you are running. An obvious exception to the above although not very practical in our climate is the section 27 provision in the health order that does allow groups of up 10 people to still engage in activity in an outdoor setting. Can one sensei and nine students have a workout outdoors – the answer is yes. You would still need to be physically distant and take all relevant precautions that you would normally do but you could structure practices outdoors as an allowable activity.
None of the above is simple and easy but none of it is impossible.
It is important to note that in all the above listed points from the Health Order as well as in the interpretation scenarios above a key message relating to these measures is finding a way for Albertans to reduce the number of possible close contacts that we all have. Tonight Dr. Henshaw mentioned the specific aim of all these new measures as trying to find a way to produce, “the greatest drop in transmissions while still allowing some participation in physical activity”; this goal was stated a number of times and in a number of different ways in the Town Hall meeting.
While so many sporting organizations have done things right and so many have had zero transmission as a result of those past preventative measures we have all taken – according to Dr. Henshaw and the Alberta government the risk right now is deemed too high to allow things to continue along as they were. The likelihood of someone walking into the dojo with COVID, perhaps being asymptomatic, is ever increasing. The statistics mentioned tonight by Dr. Henshaw were that in all likelihood for every positive case diagnosed in the province there are between 4 and 5 cases that are not being diagnosed out in the community. Even by taking all preventative measures the inherent risk in the dojo or any sport and recreation setting indoors is greater than it was earlier in November which was greater than it was in the summer.
As per previous communications If you have any questions regarding these above listed requirements or have a specific scenario as to how you feel you could still run a version of your program please feel free to reach out to Karate Alberta through the executive director and we will be happy to work with you on providing you the answers to your questions.
Relevant Document Links
Enhanced Public Health Measures
Targeted Public Health Measures
CMOH Order 39-2020**
**There is an Order 40-2020 that has come up but has no new measures relevant to sport as they are specifically dealing with houses of worship and performances that occur within.