Current provincial health orders only permit members of the same household to play doubles pickleball amid the pandemic but players must adhere to municipal ordinances which can be more strict.
In January, Saanich bylaw enforcement officers were called to the pickleball court in Tolmie Park where a group had been spotted playing in teams of two – in violation of the district’s COVID-19 restrictions limiting racket sports to singles play on municipal courts.
Racket sport courts in Saanich remain open for single-player bookings – meaning one player on each side of the net for both indoor and outdoor courts, Kelsie McLeod, communications manager for Saanich, explained at the time.
Following the incident, Walter Knecht, president of Pickleball BC, received calls from folks wondering why the municipality was enforcing restrictions different from those ordered by the provincial health officer.
The public health orders are “very broad in context,” because it would take far too long to break down the individual regulations for each sport, he said. Viasport breaks down what the public health orders mean for different sports and then the province’s various sports organizations apply the rules to their specific sports.
For example, Viasport calls for at least three metres between a maximum of four adult athletes for outdoor sports unless they’re from the same household, Knecht said. Pickleball courts are only three metres wide.
On Jan. 1, Pickleball BC specified that both indoor and outdoor games were limited to singles play unless players are from the same household. In that case, four housemates could play doubles or two members of one household could play against two members of another household. However, he noted that municipalities do have the right to make the restrictions more stringent.
“Everybody is restricted at this point,” and while it’s safe to expect that people will complain, at the end of the day, the goal is to “cut down on socializing” and protect people, Knecht said. If players don’t like their municipality’s rules, they can go to a private court but must still follow public health orders.
Saanich will permit members of the same household to play doubles. Should authorities be called, the players can simply show proof that they live together.