As a Business Owner, Hockey Coach and Father of two young active boys, very passionate about hockey - I have been following the details of the Covid-19 Pandemic very carefully for the past two months. I watch the updates from Premier Kenney and Dr. Hinshaw religiously and have been following what is happening in other Provinces, Nationally and Internationally very carefully. Myself and other Business Owners have formed a Network that meets bi-weekly, discussing how we can best be prepared to serve our customers and our communities once it is deemed safe to do so. Specifically, having the opening of Arenas in mind.
It seems clear that there are three major areas in our society where this pandemic is wreaking havoc, and where our Government and anyone who can help must find the balance to build the strongest defence against. First and foremost is the health and safety of our public specifically doing all we can to protect our people from contracting and spreading the virus. Second, is the obvious economic impact this is having on every business sector and ultimately individual. Finally, and arguably most important is the mental health of everyone forced to live in isolation without being able to do the things they love, and in many cases – even see the ones they love.
As a Society, as a Government, these three things must be taken into consideration when any re-launch strategy is set in motion. These three things are in fact, what we are at war against. Not just Covid-19. Therefore, any business or sector that can successfully demonstrate they can operate while following the protocols that have been outlined by AHS and the Government and feel safe in doing so, should be allowed to re-open in Phase 1. In particular, when you consider that for every business that is allowed to open, even if only partially will lift the economic and mental health burden off of many.
After the Re-Launch announcement, I was left feeling as though it has been assumed that Arenas are used for recreational purposes and large gatherings only and that consideration as to the positive economic and mental health impact they have in our Society had been overlooked.
Our Business Network has developed a phased approach to ‘Return to Play’ for Hockey Arenas. We worked closely with Arena Operations who added their input and in Phase 1 of this proposal, this is a summary of Phase 1 (details can be found at the bottom of the email):
• a minimal # of players are allowed on the ice at a time and work on individual skills in their own area of the ice for the entire session
• Access in and out of the Arena is controlled and players must come fully dressed with no parents allowed in the Arena.
• This is a zero-touch event, with less than 15 people who are physically distanced (more than 6 feet apart) the entire time.
• The same 12 players will be considered a ‘Cluster’ and must only be on the ice with their ‘Cluster’ for the entirety of Phase 1.
• There is zero sharing of anything.
• When the session is over, they exit out a different door than those entering for the next session.
• These practices are starting to now be seen in BC and other provinces in private facilities.
I understand that there are many layers that our Government and AHS must look into when considering the Re-Launch, certainly, hockey might be found lower on their priority list. As someone who lives it every day, I feel responsible to tell them that opening up Arenas which have the capacity to run ice times in this manner helps them fight the war against the battered economy, the state of mental health for all of those who love hockey (and their parents) and that it can be done in a safer, more controlled environment than almost every business approved to re-open in Phase 1.
Please open up the Arenas in Phase 1. Allow the experts to control the environment, and give our young hockey players something to look forward to in Phase 1. Watch the positive ripple effect it will have on the economy (skate sharpenings, hockey equipment, Tim Horton’s coffees, Arena Ice Bookings, etc.) and watch the pent up excitement of the hockey community. I see only positives in opening Arenas in Phase 1.
Please let us back in the Rink.
A concerned hockey dad