It will be different this year at arenas for many northeast Sask. towns as they work to keep their arenas safe for participants and spectators.
Local community and arena staff are working within public health restrictions in order to give all their user groups the opportunities to use their facilities this fall and winter.
This has included increased sanitation, time limits on users coming and going from the facility, and separate entrances and exits. Current regulations say only 30 people are allowed on the ice with another 30 allowed in the stands. Signing in to the facility is also a must to allow for contract tracing in case of a COVID-19 case.
Town officials have been ready to see these plans change as COVID cases ebb and drop within the province and different regulations come down from the Saskatchewan Health Authority.
Centennial and Jubilee Arenas in Nipawin will continue to follow these directives, said Chelsea Corrigan, Nipawin’s recreation director, and if new guidelines come out as a result of the case detected in a Melfort Mustangs player in late September, they will follow those as they change. There has been no need for hiring additional staff and the washroom and dressing rooms will be in use as normal with obvious restrictions on the number of people allowed in each.
Lesley Thibault, Tisdale’s recreation director, said they have gained an additional cleaning shift and doubled up some shifts in order to stay on top of things at the Tisdale RECplex. They will be following the public health guidelines as they are handed down from the Health Authority and hopefully they will play their role in keeping COVID out of Tisdale and area, she said.
“We’re striving towards normalcy. Hopefully, we don't go backwards. Hopefully, we can keep COVID out of our northeast.”
The Hudson Bay Minor Hockey Association unveiled its COVID procedure plan at the town council meeting on Sept. 8. While hockey practices won’t start until November, they are just working to get through the season the best way they can, said Minor Hockey President, Rena Houston.
“We're just trying to keep everybody calm about it, and work through it. At this point, there's not really any major concerns.”
While gameplay outside of a home community isn’t allowed at this point, Houston says a year of players developing their skills is not the worst thing and players can still have a fun season.
The association is ready for any changes to COVID-19 protocols that will be brought down by the Health Authority as the season continues.
Potential arena goers are asked to stay home if they are not feeling well. Any questions or concerns can be directed to local arena staff.
Becky Zimmer, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Battlefords Regional News-Optimist