New COVID-19 restrictions could sideline sports
LONDON, ONT. -- From minor hockey to competitive cheerleading- London’s organized sports community is reacting with shock over new covid-19 restrictions about to be imposed by the Middlesex London Health Unit.
Some parents are even worried that their kids’ season is about to come to an end- even before it starts.
"My first thought was 'oh no this can’t be happening,'" said hockey dad, Chad Dunn, who’s heavily involved in his two sons’ minor hockey activities in Lambeth.
He and the other members of his hockey board are left trying to figure out where they go from here. "It does suggest that we are allowed up to 20 kids on the ice now divided at both ends of the arena, which we understands includes coaches and trainers and any staff."
Under the protocols, which take effect Saturday, total number of people in an activity can’t be more than ten, and every activity has to take place in a separate room. Ice pads and soccer pitches have to have nine metres of separation, and capacity is determined by the ability to keep people three metres apart.
It’s going to be tough to keep kids on the ice said Jeff Gardner, the vice-president of the London Jr. Knights.
"No forewarning or no advance notice that these rules were going to come into effect until we heard it like everybody else. We met last night, we met with the alliance. We’ll certainly try to go through some options. I mean our goal is obviously is to keep the kids playing hockey and we’re going to do what we can to see that that happens."
An online petition at Change.org has so far garnered more than 5,000 signatures, calling for the health unit to waive restrictions to allow minor hockey to continue.
But it’s not just hockey that’s affected. Cheerleading coach Jill Craven, who co-owns Cheerstrike Royals, a cheerleading school in Northwest London, told CTV News the organization has 400 children involved at both competitive and recreational levels. Soon there won’t be much to cheer about.
"We’re just so worried because so much has been taken away from kids. And since we’ve reopened after the COVID-19 shutdown we’ve had numerous kids call us and thank us just for offering a spot for their kids to be that’s different from home."
Meanwhile, tensions are high at the BMO indoor soccer complex on Rectory Street.
The London Optimist Sports Centre only just restarted soccer programs last weekend. Spokesperson Tim Gatten worries they’re about to be sidelined again.
"We don’t see the necessity of it right now. If there’s a spike, we know he wants to be proactive, we understand that, but this is too big. This is too big to shut something like this down."
The Middlesex-London Health Unit is holding a virtual town hall for sport, recreation and fitness facility stakeholders at 2:30 p.m. Friday.