The Board of the Chester Curling Club has been carefully considering the ramifications of the restrictions announced on Tuesday afternoon by Premier McNeil and Dr Strang and have consulted with league chairs and other key organizers within the club. The expressed purpose of these new provincial restrictions is to prevent further community spread of the COVID-19 virus, particularly within HRM where almost all of the latest cases have occurred. For clubs within HRM, the result of these restrictions is obvious in the text of the associated regulations, but for our club, which is just outside the boundaries of HRM, the impacts are not so clear.
The measure which impacts our club most is the requirement to avoid all non-essential travel into and out of HRM. Since a significant number of our members reside within the HRM boundaries identified by Dr Strang, they are directly impacted as they are forbidden from travelling to the club. Furthermore, some members of the club (as well as coaches) travel into HRM regularly for essential purposes but live outside the HRM boundaries, so although the text of the restrictions may not apply to them, they do pose an increased risk of exposure to other members of the club. Dr Strang was quite clear on this point.
The expedient response to this uncertainty would be to close down all club operations for at least a few weeks, as if we were within the boundaries of the latest restrictions. That approach, however, does not take into account the positive benefits to the physical and mental health of those members of the club who do have the good fortune to both live outside of the formal boundaries and to not be required to travel into HRM regularly for work or other essential activities.
In order to address these factors, we have agreed to make the following changes to club operations until such time as further changes are made to public health regulations.
1. Members of the club that live within the boundaries of HRM as designated in the latest restrictions, are forbidden by public health regulation to travel to the club. If you live outside the boundaries, but you, or a household member, travel regularly to HRM for essential activities, we would strongly recommend that you not participate in any club activities. Equally, that recommendation would also apply to juniors who have parents that frequently travel to HRM.
2. It is difficult to ascertain exactly how many members will be impacted by item #1, although we know the numbers are significant. As a result, it is the unanimous opinion of the chairs of the three organized evening leagues that the scheduled activities of those leagues should be postponed for at least the next two weeks.
3. The format of our drop-in leagues is, however, flexible enough to deal with lower attendance and it is expected that the Day, Stick and Tuesday Night leagues can continue, with some minor adjustments, to safely address our community’s need for healthy recreation activities. It is also anticipated that at least one other evening dropin league can be created as an interim measure for those who wish to participate. This week that drop-in night will be Friday night beginning at 6:30 PM. Please email Beth Atherton to let her know if you planning to take part so that she can manage the expected numbers.
4. The most significant public health risk associated with running the curling club is keeping the bar open and encouraging members to congregate after the completion of play. The bar will therefore be closed until the public health restrictions have been eased.
While these restrictions to our operations may seem overreactive, the Club’s location at the edge of HRM puts us in unique circumstances and, in our view, obliges us to follow both the letter and the spirit of the latest public health restrictions. The best thing we can do in the next few weeks to keep the club up and running for the longer term is to do our part to help contain COVID-19 in the HRM area and not have it spread to surrounding communities.
We hope that if everyone does their best to stem the recent surge in community spread of COVID-19, then we will be able to get back to normal sooner rather than later.
Jeff, Beth, Michael, Carla and Linda