As of Dec. 1, proof of vaccination will be required for all people 12 years old and up wanting to use the facilities at the Cowichan Aquatic Centre, including pool patrons for the first time.
According to a statement from the Municipality of North Cowichan which operates the CAC, patrons of the pool, sauna and steam room are not identified in the order from the Public Health Office as requiring proof of vaccination.
However due to the complicated logistics of the facility design, and the operational need to have a staff member check both proof of vaccination and government ID for those 19 and up for pool users, spectators, fitness class participants, and gym users, proof of vaccination will be implemented for all visitors attending the CAC through a single check-in location, which will be a greeter table in the lobby.
“Island Health has stipulated that an ‘honour system’ is not meeting the requirements of the PHO order and as a result, it cannot be used to ensure patrons are, for example, checking into the pool without POV, and then going to the gym where a POV is required,” the statement said.
“Additionally, Island Health has stated that we are required to prevent users from accessing the facility without POV if they are going into the fitness area, spectating, or attending dry-land classes. As a result, to meet the requirements under current health mandates, we have instituted the requirement for all CAC patrons to provide POV upon entry.”
Concerns were raised in October by some people who use CAC’s pool that while vaccine cards are needed to access the adjacent gym, none are required at the CAC’s pool, sauna or steam room areas.
A spokeswoman with the Public Health Office said at the time that gyms are considered “high-risk settings” for spreading COVID-19 because people in them are usually sweating, breathing heavily and in close contact with each other, so vaccine cards are required.
She said while chlorine in the pool water can play a part in minimizing the risk of spreading the pandemic, people who use public pools are mainly not required to show a vaccine card because they can still keep a safe distance between themselves and others, and most pools are monitored to ensure this.
But the reason why people using public saunas and steam rooms (social distancing is required in the CAC’s sauna and steam room) don’t need a vaccine card was not so clear.
The spokeswoman for the PHO said the medical data has concluded that sauna and steam rooms are considered lower-risk settings for spreading the pandemic.
Asked to provide the data that came to this conclusion, she said she had no breakdown of the facts behind the policy of not requiring a vaccine card at public saunas and steam rooms.