(Files by Catherine Garrett-MyPGNow)

British Columbians will be able to get back to playing sports sooner with the Province’s action to protect amateur sport organizations from COVID-19 liabilities, provided they are following public health orders and provincial sport guidelines.

A ministerial order has been passed to protect amateur sports teams and staff from liability.

“We want to make sure children and their families can get the benefits of physical activity and get back to playing the sports they love,” said Lisa Beare, Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture.

“Many sports organizations are run by volunteers who need to make sure they are protected for risks related to COVID-19. This order will help cover that risk so people can safely get back to playing sports sooner in their communities.”

Provincial and local sports organizations have identified challenges with obtaining adequate insurance as a result of the pandemic.

Most insurance companies are not providing coverage for COVID-19 related damages, meaning many amateur sports were unable to provide sport programming during the pandemic.

The ministerial order protects amateur sports organizations and their representatives from damages resulting from COVID-19 for amateur sports.

For example, a sports organization or its representatives will not be liable for a participant in their sports program being exposed to COVID-19 as a result of participation.

That liability protection would be in place as long as they follow applicable guidance, such as viaSport’s Return to Sport protocols and public-health guidance on how to prevent the spread of the virus.

This guidance includes encouraging proper handwashing, regular disinfecting, limiting shared equipment, physical distancing measures, and use of wellness questionnaires and health self-assessment tools.

“We are thrilled that sport is making its return in the province. Today’s announcement is welcome news for our partners in the amateur sport sector,” said Charlene Krepiakevich, CEO of viaSport.

“This coordinated response to address concerns around volunteer and staff liability means that these not-for-profit organizations can focus on delivering safe, high-quality sports experiences for the people in their communities.”

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry has also been approved as an NHL hub city, according to Premier Horgan.

The next step is to gain league approval.

A plan that would have had multiple B.C. cities host NHL games was rejected by the NHL, added Horgan.

The NHL plan as it stands only includes Vancouver. 

Meanwhile, BC has also formally extended the provincial state of emergency.

The state of emergency is extended through the end of the day on June 23.