Eastern Ontario sports organizations still unclear on new COVID-19 rules

Ottawa returning to stricter pandemic restrictions has left sports organizations scrambling to figure out how to play within the new rules. 

The province announced F[1]riday[2] that Ontario hotspots, including Ottawa, would be returning to modified Stage 2 restrictions starting Saturday. For sports that means competitive games and scrimmages are prohibited. 

After announcing Monday that hockey would be a go for this season[3], the word is still out on how some of the new rules will work for amateur hockey in eastern Ontario.

In a press release Friday, Hockey Eastern Ontario said teams in Ottawa will abide by the new rules, but the organization is looking for clarification on teams outside the city. It advised those teams to continue in Stage 3 protocols until an answer is found. The organization also said it is still unclear if teams can travel to other areas for games.

City cancels most fall programs

The City of Ottawa has been busy contacting organizations who rent their facilities. Teams will have to abide by the new rules at city rinks and gyms. The city is also closing its 16 fitness facilities, including cancellations of group classes, and holding off on registrations for fall recreation programs.

“For the most part, the gathering limits that are now in place do not make many of these programs viable,” said Dan Chenier, general manager of the recreation, cultural and facility services department for the city.

“There are a few exceptions to that that may continue but very few, and with the first priority being to do our part to stop the spread.”

Exceptions are public skating and swimming along with lessons in those two sports, and before- and after-school programs. 

‘Real struggles’ of community organizations

The Ottawa Sport Council wasn’t surprised the restrictions were announced, but it said it feels for the community organizations who have worked so hard to get back up and running after being hard hit during the first wave.

“Some of them were already having real struggles … from a volunteer perspective … And then also, obviously, financially, because they couldn’t put as many people into the field of play,” said executive director Marcia Morris. The cost of personal protective equipment was also a strain, she said.

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