REGINA -- Curling Canada released its Return to Play Guidelines, a 29-page document outlining the necessary protocols for players and curling clubs to function under the threat of COVID-19.

“This seemed to be, in our opinion, the safest way to get back to play,” said Danny Lamoureux, Curling Canada’s Director of Curling Club Development and Event Operations.

Provinces and territories across Canada are currently in different reopening phases and the guidelines were developed to work with local health authorities.

The majority of curling clubs in Canada remain closed for the summer, but as the season approaches, the national curling body is issuing recommendations amid the pandemic.

The priority, regardless of location, is the safety and health of players, coaches, fans, and employees.

“Curling clubs have to do a deep clean at the start of the season. They need to create some sort of ad hoc committee on how they’re going to lay out their traffic patterns within the clubs,” adds Lamoureux.

Until now, Curling Canada has been silent on how a season could unfold. For competitive curlers, like Saskatchewan’s Kirk Muyres, the release of the guidelines provides some welcome answers.

“We hadn’t heard much over the last few months and things were progressing with COVID-19. We’re getting closer to the season so I was excited when I saw some guidelines come out,” says Muyres, who is playing second for Matt Dunstone this upcoming season.

However, some curling rules will change. Only one sweeper will be allowed on all delivered stones. The other sweeper also won’t be able to take over brushing duties mid-way down the sheet. Players are no longer allowed to sweep an opponents rock behind the T-line. These alterations, which Lamoureux says “likely won’t be permanent," have been introduced as a way of managing physical distancing.

“We don’t want to see [two sweepers] disappear, but to make sure that the six foot distancing was always in play, we had to remove that rule so there’s no interaction,” add Lamoureux.

“I think it’s going to be exciting to see a change in the game. I think every team will have a different take on what makes them better,” said Muyres.

However, Muyres is also confused as to why within a team members need to physically distance. During competition, Muyres says teammates share hotel rooms, travel together, and eat in close quarters.

“We can’t have two sweepers sweeping next to each other when we’re probably are rooming together? I think those things will get ironed out as we get closer to the season.”

Lamoureux notes that Curling Canada is still looking into that matter.

“If the local health authorities say that the bubble concept of a travelling team in curling is fine and you can have two sweepers, we will put it back into play.”