PORT AUX BASQUES – Getting the Bruce II back to business while still remaining compliant with provincial COVID-19 measures remains a work in progress, says manager Wanda Ryan Merrigan. In addition to the facility’s own protocols, each group has its own procedures to follow to keep participants safe. That currently means abiding by no less than nine different sets of regulations.
The two biggest groups are minor hockey and the figure skating club. While younger children can be accompanied by a parent or caregiver, children who are nine years old or over must enter alone and ready to go.
“A child nine or over should be able to tie their own skates. Are there children who may need an extra tightening? Absolutely. Coaches are prepared to tie skates,” offers Merrigan.
A recent post on social media expressed the frustration some parents are facing. Merrigan is sympathetic that parents are frustrated at not being able to watch their children play but says that the restrictions, while inconvenient, are absolutely necessary.
“We’re in a global pandemic so we’re doing the best we can to decrease the risk of transmission and to ensure that, if we ever have a case here, we don’t have 300 people to contact trace, we’re only going to have 100,” says Merrigan. “We have one common area downstairs, so anybody who comes in and out of our building goes through the common area. So what we’ve tried to do is try to factor in people, place, time and space.”
Ideally the Bruce II tries to restrict occupants to a maximum number of 100 people at any given time. It’s not always feasible.
“We had about 50 skaters, 10 coaches and helpers,” says Merrigan about a recent skate. “There were 31 parents in the stands. So between the rink and the benches we had 91 people. We also have a fitness centre, a bowling alley, a swimming pool that are equally as important.”
The main door is the only entry point, and the pool door serves as the only exit to keep foot traffic flowing in one direction. Parents of younger children are obliged to sit in designated bleacher seats that are taped off to comply with the six foot distancing rule.
Merrigan says many hours have been put into just figuring out what will work and what won’t. There have been tweaks, of course, as the rules are put into practice. And of course there’s a lot of extra cleaning but no extra staff to do it.
“I’ve got Tony (Tulk) just about drove crazy,” admits Merrigan. “He’s our maintenance guy here. Tony and I have measured and re-measured and measured again. We’ve walked the dressing rooms. We’ve looked at whether we can reconfigure stuff, but you can’t change the shape of your building.”
Merrigan hopes that by November she’ll be able to ease restrictions, but if a second wave does hit they may actually have to be tightened. In the meantime she asks for patience and understanding.
“We’re doing the very best that we can.”