Regina curling rink pauses season following COVID-19 outbreak at bonspiel

·3 min read

A Regina curling rink has paused its season to deep clean the premises after a COVID-19 outbreak at a bonspiel, said a message posted to the rink's website.

The outbreak happened at a seniors and masters bonspiel held at Highland Curling Club in Regina Nov. 13 to 15. The tournament included divisions for senior men and women in the 50 and up category, as well as a masters division for men aged 60 and older.

There were four divisions with a maximum of eight teams per division, so as many as 128 people could have attended the tournament.

In a letter to members posted to the club's website, general manager A.J. Scott said it was an "extremely isolated" event.

"The rink was closed to the public and kept exclusively for the athletes competing in the event," the letter said.

"We only ran two sheets at any single time, as well as made sure to run only the men's or women's divisions at one time. The teams all respected our safety protocols we have here at the rink and routine scheduled cleaning was done more than every 60 minutes as well as after every draw."

Bonspiel continued after team reported symptoms

On the Saturday evening of the tournament, a team pulled out due to flu-like symptoms.

Scott wrote that the club asked the remaining teams "if they felt safe and confident enough to want to continue play," and all the teams said they did, so the tournament finished as planned.

Early in the week of Nov. 16, the club received a notice that members of the team that pulled out had COVID-19.

"Since that time, we slowly started hearing that several more players from teams that were experiencing symptoms also went and got tested and they too came back with positive results," the letter to members says.

The letter says none of the people who tested positive have been in the rink since being tested.

Tournaments not permitted under reopen plan

Scott said in the letter that a COVID-19 compliance officer who visited the rink after the outbreak was "pleased" with their preparations and safety protocols.

The government's Re-Open Saskatchewan Plan says tournaments are not permitted.

When asked whether a bonspiel like this would qualify as a tournament, a government official pointed to a stipulation in the plan that "Competition, including play-offs, ranked and round-robin competition, is permitted within established mini-leagues and for individual sports."

Initially, the letter on the website said the rink would be open for business "as usual," but the club later updated the site to say they had paused the season for two weeks.

"This wasn't an easy decision but we have decided it is the safest and most responsible option to keep our members and our staff protected," read the updated letter, signed by Scott and club president Kevin Fetsch.

"We need to do our part to help get Regina back to the safer place it was a few short weeks ago."

CBC News reached out to Highland Curling Club, but they didn't immediately respond.