By Vicky Qiao—
As sports return and bars reopen, Canadians should still take caution when mitigating the risk of spreading COVID-19, Canada’s deputy chief public health officer said Tuesday.
In response to concerns regarding a National Hockey League plan to bring a media crew of about 50 people to Canada from the U.S., Dr. Howard Njoo said there will be measures put in place to ensure these individuals do not pose any risk to the general public.
Sports are businesses and these technical specialists are essential to the production and broadcasting of the games, he said.
“We’re also actively and very seriously looking into protocols so that they would be treated in the same way as a player,” said Njoo.
Reporters also asked about the risks of going to bars as they reopen. A hockey fan himself, Njoo said he would watch the games at home.
“Part of the experience of watching hockey games is to enjoy the company of others,” he said. “But I think at the present time, at least for myself, I would do it in the security and social bubble at home.”
Njoo said many bars are in closed spaces with poor ventilation, where the risk is much higher. People need to evaluate the risks of going to a bar and how to mitigate them, he said.
Watching games at sports bars often involves a lot of people and a lot of drinking, said Daniel Tomazela, a Mississauga resident and sports enthusiast. “I honestly think it’s gonna put a lot of the citizens and people at risk when they go into these places.”
Tomazela said he would rather watch games with a small group of friends than go out.
“I don’t think I would enter inside a restaurant at this point, because I definitely think enclosed spaces [raise] a lot more concern,” he said.
In regard to baseball, the Toronto Blue Jays have been training on their own for the Spring season and there have been “active, ongoing discussions” on the upcoming season, said Njoo.
When asked by a reporter whether it is safe to bring foreign teams into Canada, Njoo said it’s a different ball game when it comes to U.S.-Canada cross-border travel.
While Canada is seeing around 300 new cases per day, the U.S. has seen more than 60,000 daily cases. Njoo said it requires different thinking compared to countries loosening border restrictions in the European Union.
As provinces like Ontario are moving into stage three of reopening Friday, Canadians need to continue reviewing their daily actions—especially young people “who think that they’re invincible,” he said.
But not all young people are reckless. Tomazela said he only feels comfortable going to patios where safety measures are enforced properly.
“As much as we’re excited that the cases and numbers are going down, it doesn’t mean that a spike won’t come back up,” said the 22-year-old.
Njoo advised people to avoid the three C’s: closed spaces, crowded places and close contacts.
“Every single one of us is at risk of becoming sick with COVID-19. Even the youngest, and most physically fit among us,” he said.