REGINA -- Sports, fitness and dance groups in Saskatchewan are facing their second suspension, nine months after they were first forced to shut down due to COVID-19.

Activities, games, competitions, recitals and practices are suspended for amateur and recreational leagues, Premier Scott Moe announced Wednesday.

“All team sports are going to be paused until December the 17th. However, athletes under the age of 18 may continue practicing or training in groups of eight or fewer,” Moe said, citing hockey, curling, racquet sports and cheerleading as examples.

Fitness classes are also being limited to eight participants. All groups, including athletes under the age of 18 that are practicing, must wear masks and maintain a physical distance of three meters.

Organizations that had returned to competition, like the Saskatchewan Hockey Association, were hoping for new restrictions, not a suspension.

“The government doesn’t want to shut sport down, is what we were told,” GM of Sask Hockey Kelly McClintock said, noting they’d be in contact with Sask Health as recently as Friday.

However, Saskatchewan’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Saqib Shahab said the increase in transmission through sport during the past three weeks has been dramatic.

“They [COVID-19 cases] were becoming so frequent and in many cases, resulting in for example in children's sports, multiple cases then being imported into schools. For adult sports, multiple cases then being imported into workplaces so it was really imported to have that pause,” Shahab said.

Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League (SJHL) teams announced they’ll be pausing following the public health orders. Multiple teams are suspending activity until January, despite the restrictions being in place until Dec. 17.

Recreational facilities, which include ice rinks, bowling alleys, bingo halls and casinos, account for 25 per cent of cases in Saskatchewan.

“You know adults getting together, two teams playing, if there’s a cluster it will go back to the households, it will go back to workplaces, where people played on a sports team,” Shahab said.

Despite being able to practice, children under the age of 18-years-old will only be able to participate in groups of eight of less. That doesn’t include coaches and trainers.

“Since March, kids have missed out on a lot and so we want them to be playing sport and we’re doing as much as we possibly can to make it as safe as possible,” McClintock said.

“We allow them to continue to do some conditioning activity and some skills based activity,” Moe explained.

The new restrictions come into effect on Friday, Nov. 27.