March 15, 2020
Following the World Health Organization’s March 11, 2020 declaration that COVID-19 is a pandemic, the governmental response to reduce the spread of the COVID-19 virus is evolving on a daily basis. We advise that individual CORA members and member clubs keep abreast of developments both nationally and in your city and province in order to comply with the requirements and implement the recommendations of federal, provincial and municipal authorities. We have provided some relevant links at the bottom of this document.
Your Personal Well-Being
The sport of outrigger paddling is a demanding one, so most individual CORA members are in good health. The Public Health Agency of Canada has assessed the public health risk associated with COVID-19 as low for the general population in Canada, but that assessment could change. There is an increased risk of more severe outcomes for persons who are aged 65 and over, or who have compromised immune systems or have other underlying medical conditions. All persons should take steps to reduce their potential exposure to or spread of the virus, including:
- remain healthy, being cautious of overtraining and the impact of stress on your immune system
- staying at home if you display signs of illness
- practising frequent hand hygiene and coughing and sneezing etiquette
- avoiding touching your face
- replacing handshakes and hugs with non-contact greetings
- cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces
- minimizing close contact with others
- not sharing water bottles or communal food items
- eliminating cross-border or other international travel
- staying at home if you have travelled to the United States or internationally within the past 2 weeks
If you develop COVID-19 symptoms, stay at home, limit contact with others by self-isolating, contact local public health authorities and follow their instructions.
Our Member Clubs
We believe that our member clubs are best suited to address the needs and concerns of their members, given variations in their size, disciplines, facilities, equipment, geographic location, local climate and available resources.
We recommend that member clubs review their day-to-day operations now and on an ongoing basis during the pandemic to implement measures on a best efforts basis to reduce the spread of the COVID-19 virus, including:
- procedures for the cleaning and disinfection of equipment
- managing equipment usage and handover
- recommending the use of personally-owned equipment
- managing schedules and facility occupancy to reduce crowding
- substituting social media for social gatherings
and which may include a curtailment or cessation of operations should the situation worsen in their area.
There are 10 CORA-sanctioned events scheduled from now until the end of May 2020, all located within the province of British Columbia.
On March 12, 2020, the British Columbia provincial health officer, Dr Bonnie Henry, issued an order banning public gatherings of 250 or more people in an effort to reduce the risk of community transmission of COVID-19 infections. In her statement, Dr Henry noted that the figure of 250 people is “not scientific” but was chosen to achieve “social distancing” between people of approximately one arm’s length. Dr Henry encouraged people to partake in outdoor activities, as they pose less risk than indoor events such as concerts, conferences or sporting events in stadium seating.
It is our view that the format and scheduling of outrigger canoe races can be managed to restrict race site attendance to under 250 people at any one time, in compliance with the provincial health officer’s order, and to implement other risk mitigation measures. This is particularly true for early season or regional races when participation is lower than for summer races.
As with their day-to-day operations, we believe that our member clubs hosting CORA-sanctioned races (“host clubs”) are best suited to evaluate and determine what actions will be taken with respect to the hosting of their event. Host clubs are expected to review all aspects of their events and develop risk mitigation plans with measures to limit attendance to under 250 people at any one time and to manage the risks of potential exposure to or spread of the COVID-19 virus at their events. Each host club must evaluate whether it has the resources to implement its mitigation plan in an efficient and effective manner. If a host club determines that it does not have sufficient resources to do so, we would respect its decision to cancel or postpone its event. Where events are postponed, CORA will accommodate new dates in the race schedule, noting that alternate dates may not be available until late summer or fall.
In developing a risk mitigation plan, the following are some suggested race-specific risk mitigation measures:
- Race Registration
- restricting the number of canoe entries in each race
- complying with provincial and national travel guidance and restrictions as they relate to cross-border or international race participants
- complying with provincial and national travel guidance and restrictions as they relate to Canadians who have travelled to the United States or internationally within the past 2 weeks
- prohibiting participants displaying signs of illness
- Event Scheduling
- running 4 races (short course/women’s long course/men’s long course/mixed long course) instead of 3 races to reduce the number of participants in each race
- allowing sufficient time between races for cleaning and disinfection of canoes
- eliminating food service from the event (especially group sit-down banquets)
- eliminating homemade food items (through bake sales or as awards)
- hosting awards after each race in an outdoor setting to allow social distancing
- replacing an awards ceremony with results posting and award pick-up
- avoid incurring non-refundable expenses
- having hand wash stations and hand sanitizer stations available
- removing skirts from canoes where race conditions allow
- where canoes and paddles are supplied, cleaning and disinfecting paddles and canoes after each race
- where crews supply their own canoes, having cleaning and disinfectant supplies available
- avoiding crowded marshalling areas and keeping marshalling crews separated
- providing multiple rain shelters
- allowing beach loading of canoes where available
- for dock use, avoiding overcrowding of docks
- for dock use, dispersing unloading crews quickly before loading crews are allowed onto the dock
- discouraging contact between paddlers when filing on or off the dock
- encouraging the use of personally-owned Canadian-approved PFDs rather than supplied PFDs
- encouraging the use of personally-owned paddles
- not sharing water bottles or communal food items
Please also review the Public Health Agency of Canada’s webpage entitled “risk-informed decision-making for mass gatherings during COVID-19 global outbreak” and the BC Centre for Disease Control’s “event planning” webpage, both linked below.
The CORA Cup Race Series
With respect to the CORA Cup race series, subject to cancellations and postponements, most races are scheduled for April and May with the following regional distribution:
- BC Lower Mainland: River Run (April 18 & 19, 2020) & Jericho Iron (May 23, 2020)
- BC Interior/Alberta: Duel in Desert (May 9 & 10, 2020)
- Vancouver Island: Brotchie Reach (May 2 & 3, 2020) & Island Iron (May 30 & 31, 2020)
Eligibility for CORA Cup contention requires participation in two CORA Cup races plus the Canadian National Championships. There is a three-month gap between Island Iron and the Canadian National Championships in Comox on August 29 & 30, 2020. We hope that the COVID-19 pandemic will have subsided by this time. The regional distribution of races allows crews to remain within their region and race two CORA Cup races, except for the Interior/Alberta region. If the situation worsens, this allows CORA Cup race participants to avoid mass travel on BC Ferries and remain within their region. If we do advise that crews stay within their region for races or if races are cancelled, the requirements for contention may be revised or racers may be awarded double CORA Cup points where a second regional race is not available. In the event of postponements, the CORA Cup may be awarded after the rescheduled races have been held.
CORA will continue monitoring developments regarding the COVID-19 pandemic and may revise our recommendations as the situation evolves. Please watch our website www.canadianoutrigger.ca for updates.
Public Health Agency of Canada
Coronavirus disease (COVID-19): Being prepared:
Risk-informed decision-making for mass gatherings during COVID-19 global outbreak:
British Columbia Centre for Disease Control
Alberta Health Services
Ontario Public Health
City of Toronto Public Health
Government of Quebec Health