‘Cohort’ system the new rule for arena use

Joe McWilliams
Lakeside Leader

The Town of Slave Lake last week released a set of rules regarding the return to use for its ice arenas. Much of it has already been discussed and reported, but there is some new stuff in there.

What’s most significant, perhaps, is that teams, or user groups – the term is ‘cohorts’ – will be allowed to use change rooms. There are all kinds of rules regarding their use, and groups must become familiar with those. But they will be available for use, and that is an important change.

The town’s ‘Return to Play’ document defines cohort as “a small group whose members – always the same people – do not always keep two metres apart. Sports teams can play in region-only cohorts of up to 50 players and coaching staff (mini leagues). Sports cohort numbers do not include parents or spectators. The Government of Alberta recommends that individuals only belong to one sport cohort. For example, if an individual plays hockey, they would not also play in a volleyball mini league.”

Chris Taylor, president of Slave Lake Minor Hockey, tells us that until at least November, there won’t be any traveling to play teams from other towns. So it will be more like an intra-mural league, with small teams (possibly four-on-four or even three-on-three, depending on numbers), playing within the age group. Taylor gives as an example the group formerly known as Pee Wees (now U13); there are 36 kids signed up, so they’ll be split into three teams and play games against each other on the weekends.

It had been anticipated that the need for social distancing, plus the additional burden of sanitizing change rooms would make it too onerous for the town to allow their use. This has now changed. The town has come up with a scheme that will allow existing staff to sanitize a change room in 2 ½ minutes. Add 10 minutes for them to dry after cleaning, and they will be ready for the next group.

As for spectators, they are going to be allowed to sit in family groups, a safe distance from other individuals or groups. If they want to mingle, they have to wear masks. And standing around the glass is a no-no – thanks to the inability to keep it sanitized.

“We had to pick and choose,” says a town official.

Each user group has to designate a COVID safety coordinator.

And in case there isn’t compliance, the town has a set of penalties laid out, that get stiffer with second and third offences. Ignorance of the rules is not an excuse.

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