New sweeping vaccination protocols have been implemented for the two West Coast League baseball teams on Vancouver Island, the Victoria HarbourCats and the Nanaimo NightOwls.
The company that oversees the operations of both clubs is making it mandatory that all staff, coaches, players and host families be fully vaccinated if they want to be involved with the organizations.
The vaccination policy will also extend to a new Canadian College Baseball Conference team — the Victoria Golden Tide — which also falls under the same ownership group.
In a joint press release regarding the new protocols, it reads that all members of the organization will be required to be fully vaccinated as of September 1, 2021.
“Because our programs reach into every corner of the communities in which we are fortunate enough to have baseball teams, this is the right thing to do at this time, while we all watch the continued developments with this pandemic,” said Managing Partner Jim Swanson, who is GM of the Victoria HarbourCats and Nanaimo NightOwls, and oversees the fall/spring collegiate Victoria Golden Tide team that is led by Head Coach Curtis Pelletier.
The company says each baseball program will also have COVID-19 protocols in place in the case where someone tests positive. Protocols will be subject to being adjusted as well, as the global pandemic situation continues to evolve and change.
“It is a privilege to be part of our programs, and that carries a lot of responsibility and accountability. We are active in our office with staff and ownership, with spectators, with corporate sponsors, and with host families, along with many other areas our people are out in the community,” said Swanson.
Swanson adds that the Vancouver Island baseball clubs need to travel for games, taking ferries and crossing the border, which eliminates the ability to operate in a bubble.
The Managing Partner and GM says that with nearly five billion people immunized worldwide, that is enough evidence to show the vaccines have been proven safe and effective for those 12 and over.
Swanson also points to the fact that currently in B.C., 100 per cent of those in ICU with COVID-19 are unvaccinated.
“We think that speaks volumes to the importance of getting your shots,” said Swanson. “We don’t want to wade into waters that are outside of baseball, but it’s imperative that we do what’s right to keep people as safe as possible.”
The organizations say they will handle individual exceptions requested by members privately on grounds of medical or other legitimate reasons.
“While we recognize the individual rights and freedoms of people, and celebrate those rights, we also have an overriding need to do all we can to ensure all our people, and those we come in contact with, have the utmost in safety considerations,” added Swanson.
The Victoria HarbourCats are anticipating returning to a normal schedule in 2022, while also expecting fans to return to Royal Athletic Park. At this time, however, the club is undecided whether fans will be required to be vaccinated or show proof of vaccination to enter the stadium.
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused the HarbourCats to miss the last two seasons, while also delaying the highly anticipated debut of the NightOwls expansion team.