Manitoba allows Bombers to resume training, practising amid COVID-19 pandemic

The Winnipeg Blue Bombers can come out of isolation in preparation for a potential Grey Cup championship defence in 2020.

Pallister announced Phase 2 of Manitoba’s pandemic and economic roadmap for recovery on Thursday. It included the ability for pro sports franchises in the province to reopen their doors albeit under strict guidelines.

“We love our Bombers and we’ve never been more proud of them than we were last fall. We’re going to continue to do our best to support them but safely and everyone understands that in the Bombers organization,” Pallister said.

“We must remain vigilant. No COVID comeback in this province. We would like to see a sustained recovery in the province of Manitoba, not the up and down we’ve seen in many other jurisdictions.”

Players, coaches, managers, training staff and medical personnel employed by or affiliated with a professional sports team may attend at the team’s facilities for the purposes of training and practising, provided that no members of the public are permitted to enter those facilities. These organized activities can resume as long as precautions are taken, such as physical distancing and enhanced cleaning of equipment and indoor spaces.

Each sports organization and facility must establish a plan for how to minimize physical contact between participants. Outdoor activities are lower risk for transmission of COVID-19 than indoor activities. Guidance on performing a risk assessment for different sports and establishing plans will be posted online as soon as possible.

All activities will require some modification from their usual operations; however, individual or group activities that have close prolonged face-to-face contact such as football are higher risk, and will require some modification of the sport or activity to minimize this type of contact. These activities, including those with temporary foreign professional players and teams travelling to northern communities, must adhere to travel restrictions.

The following guidelines should be followed:

• Continue to offer virtual instruction or training where possible
• Individuals must use the self-screening tool before reporting to work and should stay home when ill
• Individuals must be screened for symptoms prior to participation each day of the activity, and are not allowed to participate if they are ill with COVID-19 symptoms
• If indoors, hand hygiene stations should be placed at the entrance and strategically throughout the facility
• Shared equipment must be cleaned frequently. This can be done by participants, but staff should ensure this is being done regularly
• Individuals are given information on social distancing. Indoor facilities must post signs indicating physical distancing guidelines
• Ensure enhanced cleaning of indoor facilities, particularly washrooms
• Encouraging individuals to shower at home and limit use of locker area
• Removing any common use items from locker rooms
• Posting signage for guidance on shower area use to maintain physical distancing
• If locker rooms are used, consider modifying their use in order to maintain physical distancing
• As well, a disinfectant spray or wipes should be available for participants to disinfect locker contact surfaces before and after use
• Enhanced and frequent cleaning and disinfection of locker rooms will be required
• Areas of congregation (e.g. team benches, pool edges) will require creative solutions to adhere to physical distancing guidelines. This can be done in consultation with provincial and national sport-specific COVID-19 guidance, where applicable

The Bombers released a team statement following the announcement from the province:

“We are encouraged by today’s news that professional sports facilities are permitted to reopen in MB as per guidance and direction of public health officials. We will however wait for final confirmation from CFL to allow teams to open their facilities.”