Eased COVID-19 restrictions provide bittersweet consolation for N.S. sports parents and theatre-goers
HALIFAX -- Throughout the Maritimes, COVID-19 has put limits on how (or even if) events proceed. While the easing of some restrictions is helping restore some sense of normalcy, not everyone is satisfied or even sure of a beneficial outcome.
In Nova Scotia, it's been over two months since hockey players have been able to play competitively amid COVID-19 restrictions. However, on Monday, players will be able to hit the ice once again as the province has announced the easing of some restrictions. Unfortunately for some, namely parents and spectators, watching the beloved game won't be an option – a shutout upsetting many people.
For hockey parents, like Robyn Barrett of Glace Bay, getting back in the game has been a long time coming.
"My son, Zachery, was injured in his very first game this season, so today [Saturday] marks 78 days since my son has been on the ice," says Barrett. "Now, not only does he get to practice with his teammates, but he gets to play, so it's pretty exciting in our house."
But not everyone is cheering as parents won't be allowed into the arenas to watch their children play.
Nick Bonnar, a coach who runs a learn-to-skate program, is in support of COVID-19 rules in place but says one parent should be allowed in the stands.
"My main problem is – and I'm not going to pull any punches – I think it's a safety issue, especially for children between the ages of four and nine," says Bonnar. "You can be the best coach in the world, but you can't replace a parent. I think we need them in the rink. It's a big rink, and you can stand six feet apart."
In the world of arts and culture, performances have also been given the green light to take the stage – but without an in-person audience. All shows will have to be viewed virtually.
"I'm still waiting for a clarification on the things that were announced on Friday," says Savoy Theatre executive director Pam Leader, whose theatre in Glace Bay has been one of many impacted by the pandemic. "Without an audience, there's no point in doing a big show because, financially, it would just not make sense."
In Prince Edward Island, some public health restrictions have been eased as well, with worship services able to have up to three additional groupings of fifty people in attendance – only with an approved plan. The same is true for restaurants, which can also stay open until midnight. Weddings and funerals can have up to fifty people present. Additionally, gyms, museums, libraries, and retail locations can operate at capacity, using physical distancing.
For minor hockey associations, like Glace Bay Minor Hockey, the goal is to get back on the ice, playing games – with or without parents in the building.
"Glace Bay Minor Hockey's position is that Dr. Strang has done a great job, and Hockey Nova Scotia has done a great job keeping everyone safe and focused," says Glace Bay Minor Hockey president, James Edwards. "And we're going to continue to follow the rebound plan put in place with the approval of Dr. Strang and the Premier."
Meanwhile, Dr. Strang recently announced that most public restrictions would be extended until at least Feb.7.