Indoor rinks, pools, arts events can open in Saskatchewan on July 6, province says

Indoor rinks and pools and performing arts such as music, dance and theatre will be able to reopen on July 6, the Saskatchewan government announced Tuesday.

And restaurants and bars will be able to offer expanded services in the second part of the province's Phase 4 re-opening.

The seating capacity at restaurants and licensed establishments will increase on Monday to "a level that allows staff and customers to maintain two metres of physical distance," the province said in a news release.

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As well, video lottery terminals, pool tables, dart boards, arcade games and other recreation areas can open on Monday if physical distancing can be maintained.

Live entertainment is set to return on July 16.

"I'm pretty excited," said Cam Eger, managing partner of  Broken Rack Billiards in Regina, about having pool tables and other recreation activities open up.

Broken Rack opened up June 8 to serve food and drinks at half capacity, but its 19 pool tables and arcade section were off limits.

"For us pool and games is definitely one of our major draws. It brings people in from all walks of life and it allows people to have a good time."

Eger says they have enacted a number of precautions, including only having menu boards throughout the facility instead of individual menus. 

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Mike Kirkham, manager of Sports On Tap in Saskatoon, says having people allowed to play the VLTs or pool will give them another reason to come out. 

"Gathering with friends playing pool or video games, that kind of thing, allows people something to do than just sitting at the table," Kirkham said. "Anything that keeps people here longer and potentially spending money is a bonus for us."

He says for the time being they plan to keep capacity at 50 per cent. 

The live-track betting is still currently closed at Sports On Tap, but the beach volleyball leagues will be starting next week..

"That'll help as well as it  just brings extra people into the business," Kirkham said.

Indoor pools

Regina is going to phase in opening its three indoor pools, according to Bobbie Selinger, manager of the city's community and recreation programs.

Selinger anticipates the North West Leisure Centre will open the week of July 6 with The Lawson Aquatic Centre opening the following week.

The city is still looking at staff requirements for the Sandra Schmirler Leisure Centre.

"We're just working through the details of what that looks like and we'll have a lot more to share sort of at the end of this week," Selinger said

"We know how important this is to residents. So we've been planning to respond as quickly as we can once the government gave us the date.

Supplied by the City of Saskatoon

"Now that we have a date we need to review the guidelines and there's a couple of things that we need to do to be able to set dates."

Once opened, Selinger says, residents will see enhanced screening, social distancing in place (which means reduced capacity) and they will be using registered times for activities.

"We're looking to finalize our details as we review the guidelines over the next day or two, hoping to release something officially on firm details at the end of the week."

In a news release City of Saskatoon Community Services general manager Lynne Lacroix said they are looking to re-open indoor pools later in July.

"Right now we are focused on opening the outdoor pools beginning in the first week of July," Lacroix said in the release."Now that we have the open dates from the province, we will be able to turn our attention to re-opening the indoor facilities later in July."

The city needs to bring back staff, train them in the new safety protocols to make sure workers and staff are safe.

Lacroix says they have target dates for opening, but are flexible in case they run into any delays.

"If there is a delay at one facility, the city may adjust the opening dates of the remaining facilities," she said.

Casinos, bingo halls

On July 9, casinos and bingo halls will be able to open their doors.

The Saskatchewan Indian Gaming Authority is set to reopen all seven of its casinos on July 9, said SIGA president and CEO Zane Hansen.

The casinos will start up in a reduced capacity to ensure they adhere to the public health guidelines, including increased cleaning and physical distancing. All customers will be required to wear a mask, Hansen said.

As well, customers will be required to check-in prior to entering the casino as part of SIGA's extra step to support contact tracing for a period of time. 

The process will maintain confidentiality of each guest, while providing  peace of mind that there will be an attempt to contact them if a probable or confirmed case of COVID-19 is reported at or near one of the properties. 

"It'll be quite different from what it has looked like in the past," Hansen said. "But we have to be very careful when we open and have a lot of cleaning criteria and protective equipment. It's a whole rework of our procedures for staff."

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They have reconfigured the gaming floors with two-metre spacing between slot machines and some electronic table gaming terminals. There will be no live table games. 

Food services will be essentially a deli counter with packaged foods.

Hansen says this has been the toughest four month he's had at SIGA, but is happy to see reopening in sight.

"We've got time now to get people back and have things ready get our roster's filled. We'll have some practice runs early next week in training … We'll have a busy week but we'll be ready.," he said.

Outdoor events such as racetracks and rodeo-related activities can resume July 16.  The province said they are developing guidelines related to having spectators at these events.

Post-Secondary Institutions

The province said planning is under way concerning post-secondary institutions' fall schedule and institutions will be communicating to their campus communities in the near future.

Latest cases

Six new cases of COVID-19 were reported in Saskatchewan on Tuesday, three in the Far North, two in the North and one in the South region.

Five more people have recovered, bringing the total number of active cases to 88.

Forty-seven of those active cases are in the Far North, 31 in the South, six in the North and four in Saskatoon.

Five people are in hospital — three in the North (one is in ICU), one in Saskatoon and one in the South.

There have now been 785 reported COVID-19 cases in the province with 684 recoveries.

There have been 13 deaths related to COVID-19.

There have been 65,940 COVID‐19 tests performed in Saskatchewan.