Hockey returns to Petrolia in September – just don’t cheer about it

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There will be hockey in Petrolia this winter but it will look a lot different than in 2019 including stands that are a lot quieter than usual.
The Greenwood Recreation Centre has been closed since mid-March when the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown Canada. Hockey playoffs were cancelled, figure skaters were kept off the ice and the arena stood empty.
And there was a question about whether the arena would be used in 2020 at all.
But Dave Menzies, facilities director in Petrolia, says the town has worked with minor hockey, various hockey leagues and figure skating to come up with a plan to safely return to the ice this year.
The plan compiled by the town and approved by Lambton Public Health says there will never be more than 50 people in the arena at one time.
The change rooms will be closed and players and skaters are expected to come dressed for play.
There will be at least 30 to 45 minutes between ice uses so town staff can clean the arena.
There will be one way entrances and exits, hand sanitizing stations and signage everywhere to make sure people are aware of the rules.
And the plan does away with virtually all socializing – no standing in the lobby after games, only one parent or caregiver per team member in the arena.
The town’s policy says spectators “will be discouraged from cheering, yelling, and singing as it presents an increased risk of spreading droplets.”
Teams will also have to have action plans prepared for the town everything from how first aid is handled to what happens when a player is sick.
They’ll also have to register each person coming into the arena – either before the game or as they come in, so the town can have a list of names and numbers for contact tracing should there be a case of COVID-19.
Menzies says minor hockey, figure skating and the other hockey leagues have agreed to the plan.
“There has been a detailed procedure produced and approved by Lambton Public Health and we’ve had meetings with the user groups,” says Menzies.
“It’s going to take a lot of work, but we’re really positive and committed to getting the arena up to a very clean and safe standard.”
While the plan will allow kids back on the ice, it will be tough on the municipality’s pocketbook.
“We’re expecting a reduction in revenue for the last quarter (at the arena) due to COVID-19,” says Menzies. Some of that money is expected to be recovered from a grant for municipalities from the federal and provincial governments to cover any COVID-19 related costs.
Menzies says so far, the Petrolia Flyers have committed to using the same amount of ice time for practice now and perhaps for games should the Junior C league begin play.
Menzies isn’t sure whether the Petrolia Squires will need time, since the Senior League has yet to layout a return to play plan.