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Henry says gathering restrictions will remain in place in Interior

No exemptions for WHL

UPDATE: 3:23 p.m.

B.C.’s top doctor says she is working with Interior Health on when regional capacity limits might be lifted, but no changes should be expected until at least next week.

That’s what provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said Tuesday when asked about the restrictions requiring the Interior’s two Western Hockey League teams to cap ticket sales at 50 per cent of capacity.

WHL commissioner Ron Robison wrote a letter this week to Interior Health officials asking for an exemption that would allow the Kamloops Blazers and the Kelowna Rockets to do away with the limits for home games.

Henry’s comments make it clear restrictions will remain in place for the time being, but she said they are being reviewed on a “day-to-day” basis.

“We’re not at the point where we feel we can take that risk,” she told reporters in a news conference on Tuesday.

Henry said factors being considered are transmission rates, vaccination rates and the impact the pandemic is having on the healthcare system in the Interior. Speaking about Kamloops specifically, she said there is still “a lot of transmission in the community.”

“I have been working with my colleagues in Interior Health,” she said.

“We have been reviewing the orders and it is absolutely a decision we make together.”

Henry said she is hopeful the gathering restrictions might be lifted “within the next week.”

Both the Blazers and the Rockets are slated to play home games this weekend.


ORIGINAL STORY: 1:50 p.m.

The commissioner of the Western Hockey League has asked Interior Health for an exemption that would allow teams in Kamloops and Kelowna to do away with 50 per cent capacity limits.

WHL commissioner Ron Robison sent a letter to IH on Monday, Kelowna Rockets owner Bruce Hamilton confirmed to Castanet.

The letter asked IH to allow the Rockets and the Kamloops Blazers to operate exempt from the region’s 50-per-cent capacity limit, citing the financial implications for the clubs having to limit ticket sales.

News of the letter was first reported by Kamloops This Week.

“Both teams, under normal circumstances, draw near capacity attendance for all of their home games and to continue limiting capacity will severely impact ticket sales and other team revenues,” the newspaper quoted Robison as saying in the letter.

“Given the preventative measures we have taken, combined with the public health guidelines currently in place in the province of B.C., we believe that WHL games in Kamloops and Kelowna represent no significant risk to the Interior public health system.”

Fans attending games would still have to abide by B.C.’s vaccine card system. The WHL also has its own pandemic protocols in place, including a full vaccine requirement for all players and team staff.

According to KTW, Robison said in the letter that the matter is “urgent” and provided a number at which he can be reached at any time.

Both the Blazers and the Rockets are slated to play home games this weekend.



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