Sports minister puts his foot down: ‛no test, no play’
Volleyball has become the first sport to move to Stage 4 in the Return to Play guidance on the basis of tests taken, after 95 per cent of their members were tested recently.
Ernest Peets, the Minister of Youth, Culture and Sport, has reiterated “no test, no play” as contact sport gets set to return.
The minister did not name the sport, but Elizabeth Rae, the president of the Bermuda Volleyball Association, confirmed it was volleyball. However, with gatherings restricted to a maximum of 25 people, league play is not possible at present.
“Yes volleyball has been granted permission to move to Stage 4 after successfully testing our athletes,” Rae said yesterday.
“However, it has been limited to the gathering size of 25 people. Therefore despite being granted approval for Stage 4 we are not able to actually do so until gathering sizes are increased.
“We cannot run our leagues with that limit. We will need to stay with Stage 3 training only. We are hopeful cases will stay low and gathering sizes can be increased when it is safe to do so.”
As the island gets set to welcome back competitive sport, Peets recently visited St George’s Cricket Club, one of the Covid-19 testing centres, to assess the progress. One of the requirements for the resumption of contact sport is for athletes to take a saliva test in order to participate in training in Stage 3 and then sports activity in Stage 4.
Only athletes who are able to confirm that they have a negative test result are allowed to participate in Stage 3 and Stage 4 activities, which should be monitored by their clubs.
“Contact sports bring a higher risk of Covid-19 transmission, therefore the Government requires adults wishing to participate in Stage 3 and Stage 4 sports to undertake a saliva Covid-19 test and repeat every 28 to 30 days,” Peets said.
“I want to emphasise that for health and safety reasons, if an athlete does not comply with the testing requirements, then participation in the competitive sports will not be possible.”
The minister added: “Additionally, young persons and children aged 11 to 17 who participate in contact sports are strongly recommended to be tested. Individual clubs and national sports governing bodies may determine whether to require it. Children aged 10 and younger can be encouraged to test also.”
The minister urges athletes to register to take the test, reminding that the testing is safe and the results fully confidential.
“As someone who engages in competitive sport, I also participated in the required test,” Peets said. “The saliva test is non-invasive and easy to self administer.
“There are no health risks associated with the test, and it is provided free of charge by the Government of Bermuda.
“Athletes must register to take the test so their kit can be prepared and they can receive their test results. A video link and written instructions will be provided to demonstrate how to use the kit.”
Peets added: “The ministry wishes to assure the public that the test results are fully confidential. Only the patient, the Epidermiology and Surveillance Unit and Ministry of Health-authorised officers will know the results. In the event of a positive test result, the patient’s physician will also be informed.
“If a sample is positive, the patient’s physical or the Epidermiology and Surveillance Unit will be in touch with the patient to communicate the result and provide guidance on isolation, management and testing.”
Competitive sport ceased in early December, and the sports minister is urging the community not to become complacent at a time when sport is getting set to resume. “The Covid-19 pandemic has impacted all aspects of Bermudian life,” he said. “Sporting, cultural and entertainment events have been likewise severely impacted,.
“Bermuda has come a very long way in controlling Covid-19 to save lives and minimise the impact to our economy and quality of life.
“We are grateful to the public and the sporting sector for their patience, collaboration and willingness to do the right thing for sport and for the country.”