Sask. loosens COVID-19 restrictions on sports practices
REGINA -- A quiet change to Saskatchewan’s Re-Open Plan guidelines will allow more kids to participate in a practice or training at the same time.
Large pool facilities, ice surfaces and spaces like high school gyms can now be used by multiple groups for practices and training.
Rebels Cheerleading Club is working quickly to put up new dividers that will allow the organization to have up to 30 kids training in the facility at the same time.
"They can all be on the premises in their own areas, which allows for more training time," Lisa Dunbar, a coach with Rebels Cheerleading, said.
Since last November, youth sports have been limited to eight kids under-18 per practice.
Saskatchewan adjusted its guidelines for sports and activities on Feb. 19 to allow multiple groups of eight to share the same space in large facilities, while still maintaining physical distancing of three metres between participants and five metres between groups.
"These venues must have the space and monitoring capability to ensure adherence to the required distancing protocols between groups, capacity maximums and other risk mitigation protocols as noted in the guidelines," the Government of Saskatchewan said in a statement on Monday.
Masks must continue to be worn at all times.
"We’re building ten-foot barriers so that our groups of eight can still be three metres apart, but then we’ve solved the five metres with the barriers," Dunbar said.
The maximum number of people allowed in the facility is 30, not including coaches and staff.
The changes come too late for hockey in much of the province as many towns have already begun shutting down their arenas until the fall, but in centres where the ice is still in, it will mean a more efficient use of ice times.
"It’s added a lot of costs to the associations, where now they can get more kids on the ice," Kelly McClintock, general manager of the Saskatchewan Hockey Association, said.
McClintock said this decision gives him hope for next season.
"I’m being optimistic that we can start our normal year in September," he said. "I’m not sure when we’ll be able to play games, but we can start our year like we did this past year."
While many winter sports are shutting down, spring and summers sports like baseball are preparing for the 2021 season after playing during the pandemic last year.
Baseball Regina is hosting indoor evaluations this weekend and the increased number of groups allowed in the same space is welcomed news.
"With the facility that we have, we’re going to have there groups of eight, just because of the square footage and we have to maintain six feet of distance between each of the participants," Baseball Regina president Dwayne Bidyk said.
Bidyk added each group of eight kids will also have to be spaced 15 feet apart to abide by the guidelines.
Baseball Regina hasn’t received approval to play games this summer yet, but has set a tentative start date for May 1.