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Ontario Hockey League will require players, staff to have COVID-19 vaccinations

Players, staff and billet families with the Ontario Hockey League will all be required to be vaccinated against COVID-19 for the upcoming season
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Players, staff and billet families with the Ontario Hockey League will all be required to be vaccinated against COVID-19 for the upcoming season.

The league released its vaccination policy Tuesday for the 2021-22 season and says it is effective immediately.

The policy applies to “OHL Community Members,'' including people who attend training camp, practices, games or play in the league, and it specifically references players, coaches, trainers, team and league staff, officials, volunteers and billet families.

It adds that the league will work with members who do not want to be vaccinated to figure out a path forward.

The OHL says vaccines must be administered at least two weeks before the start of training camp.

The league says the policy is being put in place to protect the health and safety of OHL members and reduce potential transmission of the virus.

The Kitchener Rangers is embracing the new policy.

"I think it's a great step, and great leadership the league is showing across the province," said Joe Birch, the chief operating officer of the team.

He said everything has been positive as it pertains to vaccine uptake within the organization, and if there are any issues with members refusing to get vaccinated --- or are unable to get vaccinated for medical reasons --- the situation will all be handled at the league level and is out of the team's hands.

Reading into the policy and talking about people attending games, Birch was asked if this would mean fans would need to be vaccinated in order to get in.

"We haven't been advised of that as of yet," Birch replied, "The league will continue to communicate to us as it relates to fans, as it relates to what they're gathering from public health and the province."

"But we haven't received any information on that at this point."

With files from The Canadian Press.

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