Considerations for Sport, Recreation and Fitness Facility Owners, Operators and Activity Organizers

Sport, recreation and fitness facility owners, operators, and activity organizers should refer to Ontario’s Roadmap to Reopen.

The information in this document is intended as a supplement to Ontario’s Roadmap to Reopen. This document should be used in conjunction with all relevant and applicable provincial guidance and local regulations for a safe return to sport, recreation and fitness. Facility owners, operators, and activity organizers are responsible for familiarizing themselves with what can reopen, limits on gatherings and capacity and all other necessary public health measures (such as physical distancing, screening and recording, masking, cleaning and disinfection, etc.).

Resources

This document and the guidance within it are subject to change and will be updated as needed. Current information related to COVID-19 can be found at www.EOHU.ca/coronavirus.

General Considerations

Develop a Plan

  • Sport, Recreation and Fitness facility owners, operators, and activity organizers should develop a publicly available written plan that aligns with Ontario’s Roadmap to Reopen.  
  • A template to develop the written plan can be downloaded on our website.  The EOHU will not approve plans from sport, recreation and fitness partners but can provide support as needed. 
  • Designate a responsible person to oversee activities to ensure public health guidelines are followed. 
  • Ensure that all the requirements are met and that the guidelines are communicated to all relevant partners (coaches, volunteers, participants, family members and spectators). 
    • Communicate to all participants (coaches, volunteers, officials, participants, family members and spectators) about the risk of COVID-19 and practices that should be undertaken to mitigate risk.  Direct participants to www.EOHU.ca/coronavirus.

Screening

Symptomatic Individual, Probable or Confirmed Case

NOTE:  Not every symptom or situation requires testing and isolation, therefore the sport, recreation or fitness facility owner, operator or activity organizer should assess every situation and always defer to any guidance from public health and act on any public health recommendations.

  • Anyone (participant, staff, coach, volunteer) who becomes unwell while at the facility/during the activity should:    
    • Advise the facility owner, operator, or activity organizer immediately.
    • Separate themselves (or be instructed to) from others.  They should put on their mask if they are able to.  They must not be permitted to continue to participate and must be directed to go home immediately (if possible, with private transportation, avoiding taxis, ride shares, and public transit).
    • Complete a self-screening again and act on the recommendations provided (e.g. self-isolate, visit a COVID-19 Assessment Centre to be tested, self-monitor for symptoms, contact primary care provider, etc.). Use the provincial COVID-19 Screening Tools.
    • Seek medical attention as required.
  • Facility owners, operators, and activity organizers must follow any guidance from public health.
    • Owners, operators, and activity organizers can establish their own policies for dealing with a confirmed or probable case.
    • Activity organizers using or renting space in a facility should contact the facility operator or owner.

Sport and Activity-specific Considerations

Sport and Recreation Organizations and Leagues

  • While there is nothing in the provincial regulations that prohibits a participant from registering in multiple leagues, this would be considered a higher risk activity that we do not recommend. In addition, participants need to consider their respective sport's governing body requirements, as they may exceed the provincial regulations by not allowing a participant to register in more than one league.
  • Team and individual sports may only be practised or played within the facility if they do not allow for physical contact between players or if they have been modified to avoid physical contact.
    • Every person in sports, recreation or fitness facility or participating in an activity at the facility, other than a team or individual sport, must maintain a physical distance of at least two metres from every other person at all times.
  • Keeping sport, physical activity, and recreation activities local is preferred. 
    • Leagues should limit or avoid travel to other regions in the province and out of province. Current provincial and federal travel restrictions should be followed.
    • Facility owners and operators should avoid rental agreements with sport and recreation organizations or leagues from outside their region.
  • Sport and recreation organizations (e.g. clubs, associations, leagues, and teams) wishing to book facilities should follow facility protocols and guidelines, as well as establish their own sport or activity-specific guidelines for the safe return to sport/activity.  
    • Those participating in organized activities sanctioned by, or affiliated with, a provincial or national sport organization should refer to and ensure they are also complying with their governing body’s guidelines, as long as the governing body’s guidelines meet or exceed provincial requirements. 

Personal Training

  • Consider the use of technology for virtual personal training where possible.
  • Advise both clients and trainers to arrive close to their appointment time. Ensure that the waiting area is configured so that people can maintain physical distancing.
  • Ensure trainers and clients refrain from physical contact and adhere to the physical distancing requirements from each other and other clients and trainers during the session.
  • Physical distancing must be maintained except when required for personal training (e.g. spotters during weight training).  Ensure the use of appropriate Personal Protective Equipment.    
    • As much as possible, personal training sessions should be conducted in a manner that avoids touching clients. Promote and support the use of verbal cues or technology (e.g. using a tablet to show an instructional video) while coaching.

Group Classes

  • Group classes must only be offered if physical distancing measures can be maintained. 
  • Consider holding outdoor classes to ensure appropriate physical distancing is maintained.
  • Consider expanding online offerings (e.g. online fitness classes) to reduce the burden on in-person activities.
  • Allow adequate time to thoroughly clean and disinfect equipment between each class. 
  • Instructors should be assigned and wear microphones to support physical distancing and reduce the need for shouting or walking around. 
    • If used, they should be sanitized between each use or individual ones assigned to each instructor.
  • Patrons should not be permitted to sing along to the music or shout back at the instructor.
  • Consider creating cohorts of classmates by assigning specific times for the same participants to partake in classes.
  • Mitigate the potential for classmates to gather before and after a class within the facility.
  • Ensure group fitness classrooms are well ventilated (e.g. open windows if possible). Recommendations for Health and Safety:
    • High-powered fans may result in greater dispersion of droplets. Consider further reducing class sizes to maintain room temperature at manageable levels without the use of high-powered fans.
  • For classes with significant movement (i.e. dance), it is recommended the program be altered to limit the need to travel within the room and to maintain the required physical distancing between participants. Consider dancing in a designated area or moving the class outdoors.
  • Assigned spaces are strongly recommended for organized fitness classes (e.g. by marking circles on the floor to designate where each person should exercise).
  • Consider removing unused equipment from group fitness rooms to create additional space for clients.
  • For high intensity fitness classes (e.g. spin/cycle class, dance, hot yoga, boot camp), consider that there is no scientific evidence supporting the establishment of a ‘safe’ distance between participants during indoor high intensity activities. 
    • Both operators and participants should proceed with this type of exercise with caution and should take appropriate measures to reduce risk of exposure and transmission.  
  • For low intensity fitness classes (e.g. yoga, pilates, stretching), consider the following: 
    • Participants should be encouraged to bring their own equipment (e.g. mats, blocks).
    • If equipment is shared, it should be cleaned and sanitized between users.
    • Where fitness activities involve participants in close proximity to the floor, the floor should be cleaned thoroughly between each class.

Weight Rooms

  • Any equipment that is rented to or provided for the use of users of the facility must be cleaned and disinfected between each use. 
  • Activities must not be practised within the facility if they require the use of fixed structures that cannot be cleaned and disinfected between each use.
  • Ensure appropriate spacing between weight machines.
  • Designate areas for the use of certain equipment (e.g. stretching areas, kettle bell areas) and for movement (e.g. heavy rope, tire flipping zone) to ensure distancing is maintained.
  • It is strongly recommended to use markers on the floor to define designated areas and manage flow of participants.
  • If equipment cannot be moved to ensure appropriate physical distancing, block off every other piece of equipment.

Indoor Tracks

  • Width of track (and lanes) should be considered for physical distancing. Consider limiting the use of every second lane. 
  • It is suggested that runners and walkers travel in the same direction on the track. 
  • Encourage outdoor walking and running wherever possible.

Tennis, Pickle-ball, Squash and Other Racquet Courts

  • Patrons that are not part of a league should be encouraged to play with patrons from the same household if they cannot maintain physical distancing of at least two metres.
  • Participants should be encouraged to bring their own clean equipment when possible. 
    • Where equipment is rented, operators should clean and disinfect between uses.

Gymnastics

  • Any equipment that is rented to or provided for the use of users of the facility must be cleaned and disinfected between each use. 
  • Activities must not be practised within the facility if they require the use of fixed structures that cannot be cleaned and disinfected between each use.
  • Users should be asked to thoroughly wash their hands before and after using shared equipment (e.g., beams, rings).
  • Remove mats and other equipment that is torn or in disrepair as these items cannot be effectively sanitized. 
  • If gear or equipment rental is permitted, ensure it is cleaned and disinfected after being returned.

Multi-use Gymnasiums, Fieldhouses and Community Centres

  • Players should follow marked one-way traffic patterns when entering and exiting the gymnasium.
  • Gymnasium floors should be thoroughly cleaned at an enhanced frequency.
  • Amateur and recreational sports leagues may resume so long as they do not allow prolonged or deliberate physical contact between players, or if they have modifications to avoid physical contact between players. 

Mixed Martial Arts, Wrestling, Boxing, and Dance Studios

  • Training is permitted if appropriate physical distancing between all participants is maintained at all times during the activity.
  • Partner training is only permitted within partners from the same household and for teaching and instructional purposes (no sparring, competitive play, exhibitions, etc). 
    • Facility operators should post signage that clearly indicates that partner training is for teaching and instructional purposes and can only occur between partners of the same household.
  • Wearing a mask is not a substitute for physical distancing.

Pool and Aquatic Activities (Public swimming, swimming lessons, lap swimming)

Food Premises in Sport & Recreation Facilities

  • Facility operators should consult the EOHU website to review guidelines and requirements for food premises.
  • Vending machines should be cleaned frequently, in particular touch keypads.

Contact Us

Have a question or need support?  Contact Healthline (1-800-267-7120) or email the Health Unit’s physical activity team at sportsdesk@eohu.ca.

Eastern Ontatio Health Unit / Bureau de santé de l'Ontario