REGINA -- The City of Regina has opened 31 of 52 outdoor rinks in the city, with specific COVID-19 guideline in place.

The warm weather and flurries have made it challenging to open the rinks any sooner this season, the City said.

“You can probably do a single rink in a few days if you have consistent weather that’s below 0 so the water doesn’t freeze,” Jeff May, the City of Regina’s Manager of Sports Facilities and Special Events, said.

The City has been working with the province to ensure they follow COVID-19 guidelines. Up to 30 people can use the outdoor rink if they maintain at least three meters of distance. However, each outdoor rink location in Regina has different restrictions due to size variation.

“The number of folks available to skate on an ice sheet can go from five to 20 to 30 to 15, it all depends on the size of the sheet,” May said.

Each rink has a shelter with the capacity restrictions marked.

The government clearly states that no competition or games are currently allowed. Players must follow the government’s guidelines and stay within their bubble, meaning that a casual game amongst household members is permitted.

“A pickup game of shinny between five people who live in the same house would be fine. A pick-up game between mixed households would be going against the public health order,” May said.

Warm-up shelters also have restrictions. This year, the City of Regina has hired extra staff to monitor and operate 12 of the rinks. The other’s are being operated by community associations.

The City won’t be policing the guidelines, but the staff will remind the public of the health orders.

“Folks staffing the shelters will keep an eye on the activity and give a friendly reminder to folks if they see something that doesn’t work under the current public health order,” May said.

When there is no staff there to observe skaters, the City asks for the voluntary compliance of the public using the outdoor rinks and to follow the guidelines posted.