‘It’s been a long road’: Sport Manitoba excited for nearly full return of sports

Tuesday saw many public health restrictions clawed-back in Manitoba as the province moves towards it’s goal of no restrictions by Spring. Mike Albanese spoke with Sport Manitoba about their near-full return-to-play.

By Mike Albanese

Numerous restrictions in Manitoba were lifted on Tuesday, including some that will see both indoor and outdoor sport returning closely to what it was pre-pandemic.

Sport Manitoba’s president and CEO says it wasn’t always the popular choice to follow the province’s guidelines, but it has always been about safety.

“I think there is quite a happy sport community. It’s been a long road,” said Janet McMahon.

“I think people are very excited about that, cautious but very excited that we look to be going to full return to play.”

READ: Manitoba to fully remove health measures by mid-March

With the re-worked public-health restrictions announced on the Feb. 11 and introduced Tuesday, tournaments are back for both indoor and outdoor sports. Vaccinations and testing are no longer required for the age range of 12 to 17, and capacity limits have been completely lifted for indoor and outdoor spectators.

McMahon says they expect to see a resurgence of both players and fans now, as the restrictions continue to lift.

“We saw some drops, some people saying it wasn’t worth it. If my kid had to isolate or miss school, those sorts of thing, certainly there were impacts. But our hope is people will come back wanting it more and participate in everything they can.”

WATCH: Will MB follow other provinces in eliminating COVID-19 mandates? (Feb. 8, 2022)

Premature to remove mask mandate: expert

Manitoba is two weeks away from eliminating proof of vaccination requirements, and one month away from the province eliminating the mandatory mask rule in public spaces.

Kevin Coombs, a professor at the University of Manitoba, says it’s premature to decide on eliminating mask requirements when it’s unclear what the data will be in a month.

He says he will continue to wear his mask until case counts are very low, but says with underreported cases, it will be hard to know when that is.

“The loosening of restrictions for vaccine passports, in some ways that’s acceptable,” said Coombs. “But the loosening of mask restrictions really makes no sense to me as a person studying viruses for many years.

“The impression that I as a member of the population is getting is that the province is going to do this come hell or high water, which I think is really unfortunate.”

In a press conference last Friday, Manitoba’s top doctor hinted that more data would be released this week.

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