The City of Williams Lake has implemented several measures as part of a mandatory face mask policy inside the Cariboo Memorial Recreation Complex in order to help keep users and spectators safe through the coronavirus pandemic. (Greg Sabatino photo - Williams Lake Tribune)

The City of Williams Lake has implemented several measures as part of a mandatory face mask policy inside the Cariboo Memorial Recreation Complex in order to help keep users and spectators safe through the coronavirus pandemic. (Greg Sabatino photo - Williams Lake Tribune)

Safe return for players main focus of return to play: BC rec and parks CEO

City provides policy update for spectators

The BC Recreation and Parks Association has released an update to its members supporting municipalities’ decisions whether to accommodate spectators inside arenas throughout the province.

Rebecca Tunnacliffe, BC Recreation and Parks CEO, said the main focus continues to be on the safe return of participants to sport activities in B.C. as fall and winter sports ramp up.

To date, BCRPA has led the restart of the recreation and parks sector with the creation of its Restart Guideline, along with other, guiding documents such as viaSport’s Return to Sport Guidelines.

In Williams Lake, the City adjusted its spectator policy on Friday, Oct. 16 to prevent patrons from being inside the Cariboo Memorial Recreation Complex’s ice arenas, however, rescinded its decision following a discussion at the Tuesday, Oct. 20 council meeting with representatives from the Williams Lake Minor Hockey Association.

Currently, 50 players are allowed on the ice, while another 50 are allowed in the rink one stands. In rink two, a maximum of 20 spectators are allowed inside. There is also a mandatory face mask policy in effect for all complex users unless entering a field of play, dressing room or change room.

READ MORE: City makes face masks mandatory at Cariboo Memorial Recreation Complex

On Friday, Oct. 22, the city issued a release further outlining its policy concerning spectators and safety at the CMRC after meeting with the complex’s main user groups with the following policies now in effect:

• User group organizers will be collecting the first and last names, and telephone numbers of every patron that attends an event.

• All facility users and patrons are required to follow the direction of group organizers and CMRC staff. Failure to do so may require the user/patron to be removed from the facility and further follow up as needed.

• All facility users and patrons are required to follow appropriate physical distancing rules at all times.

• A face mask will be required to be properly worn by all users and patrons throughout the entirety of the CMRC.

• Face masks may only be removed when a user enters a field of play or dressing room/change room. Fields of play include the rink, swimming pool, fitness centre and registered programs.

• Users and patrons are responsible for bringing their own face masks, as they will not be provided by the CMRC.

Quesnel has adopted a similar policy at the West Fraser Centre, allowing for 50 spectators, and another 50 players on the ice.

“The continued health and safety of staff, users and patrons is a priority, and safety policies are reviewed on an ongoing basis to meet the requirements set out by the Provincial Health Officer and our provincial partners,” said Ian James, director of community services with the City.

“The City of Williams Lake’s Joint Occupational Health and Safety Committee is in full support of mandatory face masks at the Cariboo Memorial Recreation Complex.”

Tunnacliffe, meanwhile, added the BCRPA is strongly recommending municipalities carefully consider all requirements of the recent Public Health order if allowing spectators is to be considered and added they will provide an interpretation of the language of this order relative to spectators to assist municipalities in their decision-making.

READ MORE: Interior Health reports 12 additional COVID-19 cases

“BCRPA’s recommendation at this time, and for the remainder of 2020, is for municipalities to focus on supporting the ‘event’ participants (those who are essential to the activity) until local facility protocols and sport user group agreements can be established,” she said.

She stressed those municipalities who are allowing spectators with a mandatory mask rule in place must ensure spectators are remaining two metres apart while seated in the stands, as per the provincial health order issued by Dr. Bonnie Henry on Oct. 9.

“Masks do not change the requirement spectators remain two metres apart,” Tunnacliffe said.

Throughout the return to sport process, Tunnacliffe said the BCRPA has worked in close collaboration with viaSport, the Recreation Facilities Association of BC (RFABC) and with BC Hockey on the return to their game, and each association has been greatly supportive.

“We really, strongly believe this is a time to move with caution and those facilities that are allowed to have spectators whose sports groups are managing them — those spectators need to realize they are the guests of that sport,” she said.

Tunnacliffe cautioned of a recent outbreak in Ottawa after at least 28 positive cases of COVID-19 — five confirmed teams and another nine under investigation — were linked to hockey arenas.

Ottawa’s medical officer of health has since warned that organized sports activities are contributing to the spread of COVID-19 in that province.

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