Moncton curling club makes sweeping rule changes for COVID-19

·2 min read

For some sports, it's possible to play the game during the pandemic without changing the rules dramatically.

But that isn't the case for curling, as COVID-19 has prompted substantial differences in how the game is played now.

Curl Moncton delayed its opening this year and has implemented a new set of on-ice rules to allow play to continue through the coronavirus pandemic.

The club is following guidelines rolled out by Curling NB, Curling Canada and Public Health.

"Each team sanitizes their own rocks, and then no one else touches those rocks for the rest of the game," said Tim Westfield, the director of marketing and communications.

Players used to use a coin flip to determine which team would throw first. But now that's determined with a spinner that players can spin with their brooms — to reduce contact.

Masks are required at all times within the building except at designated tables in the social area of the club.

Kate Letterick/CBC News
Kate Letterick/CBC News

The scoreboard and score pieces are also constantly sanitized.

But, the biggest change is only allowing one sweeper at a time, to permit physical distancing.

Westfield said Curl Moncton spent the summer preparing to adapt the ice for physical distancing and new rules. Dots were placed along the separator lines between sheets, to indicate to players where to stand on the sidelines.

"We've had to remind a few people," he said. "Some people have been playing the game for a long time and they're set in their habits."

Membership down

Curl Moncton surveyed members to see if they would return to play with COVID-19 protocols in place, and about 80 per cent said yes.

The organization decided to open just one of its two rinks for now, leaving five sheets of ice available for games.

Westfield said there are about 300 members so far this year, down from a normal of about 400.

He said most bonspiels, or curling tournaments, have been cancelled this year.

The Moncton Club itself cancelled about 12 events.

Mixed doubles is the most popular, since the two-person teams were already COVID-compliant.

"That's the only league we have that is sold out," Westfield said.