The Fairfax Challenge Winter RJCC/RYC is scheduled to take place on the weekend of December 19 in Fredericksburg Virginia. It’s a wonderful time to have a Fencing tournament. It’s cold outside, there’s Christmas music playing and holiday cheer all around. Fireplaces are burning. And almost 300,000 people are dead from Covid.
Virginia Covid hospitalizations are at an all-time peak. On December 9, Virginia had its pandemic worst of 4,400 daily cases. Fredericksburg City is listed as having an “active or imminent outbreak,” experiencing 41 cases per 100,000 Residents.
In response to these alarming numbers, on December 10, Governor Ralph Northam (who incidentally contracted Covid) issued new Covid restriction guidelines to help stall the spread of the virus. You need not read through these line by line. You’ll find what’s of note on Page 10:
“12. Entertainment and Amusement Businesses
Performing arts venues, concert venues, sports venues, convention centers, expos, movie theaters, museums, aquariums, fairs, carnivals, public and private social clubs, botanical gardens, entertainment centers, historic horse racing facilities, bowling alleys, skating rinks, arcades, trampoline parks, arts and craft facilities, escape rooms, amusement parks and zoos not covered in paragraph 11, and other places of indoor public amusement may open provided such businesses comply with the Guidelines for All Business Sectors and the sector-specific guidelines, which are expressly incorporated by reference herein. Such guidance includes, but is not limited to, the following requirements:
f. Require ten feet of physical distancing between parties at all establishments with physical activity, singing, or cheering; six feet of physical distancing is required in other venues.”
In spite of the state of Covid numbers and guidance requiring ten feet of physical distancing, USA Fencing is proceeding with the Fredericksburg ROC. In an email from Greg Hollingsworth, he stated that “…the tournament would still be able to be held within the constraints of the order.” What?
Folks, there is zero way Fencing competition can be done safely right now (outside of an NBA quarantine and bubble style format with rapid testing), and the law outright prohibits it.
If you’re reading this, you are probably eager to return to competition and life as we knew it pre-pandemic. Just yesterday, the FDA approved Pfizer’s vaccine. The end of this pandemic is around the corner, but we’re in the bottom of the 7th inning right now and we have an obligation to do our part until we can return to Fencing safely. There’s some simple steps you can take here to stop this event from happening.
What You Can Do
1. Don’t compete until you’re vaccinated.
2. Contact Dan Mott, Senior Events Manager at USA Fencing and tell him this event shouldn’t happen.
3. It would be a shame, and I mean, a real shame, if you were to go to the following Virginia Department of Health link and file a report with the following parameters:
Which Option Best Describes You? “I am a member of the public”
Type of Establishment: Recreational Sports
Name of Establishment: Fredericksburg Expo & Conference Center
Establishment Address: 2371 Carl D. Silver Parkway Fredericksburg, VA 22401
City or County: Fredericksburg City
Date of Observation: 12-19-2020
Type of Complaint: “People in this establishment were not following social distancing guidelines.”
Who was not following social distancing guidelines? “Business and Customers.”
Any additional information you would like to provide? “USA Fencing is hosting a Fencing tournament at the Fredericksburg Convention Center from December 19-20 in defiance of Governor Northam’s Executive Order No. 72, which requires 10 ft of social distancing in a convention center venue. Fencing is a contact sport where participants can come into direct physical collision, and cannot be practiced without defying the Governor’s mandate.”
Stay safe out there. It’s the best we can do for now.