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Hay River’s Midget hockey team gathers in front of their bench on Oct. 30. Under Covid-19 restrictions, only a total of 25 people are permitted on the ice and benches for hockey games at the arena, including players, coaches and the referee.
NNSL file photo

A bid by the Town of Hay River to change Covid-19 capacity limits for sports at the arena will have to wait for an answer.

Dr. Kami Kandola, the NWT’s chief public health officer, is not ready to approve any changes, Stephane Millette, the town’s director of recreation, told the Nov. 16 online meeting of council.

“They’ve indicated some concerns with regards to Christmas travel and the possible impact on rec complexes and the higher risk of Covid,” said Millette. “So they’ve decided that occupancies and guidelines will remain status quo until after the Christmas break.”

In late October, the town applied to the GNWT to raise the maximum capacity to 30 or 32 from the existing limit of 25 people allowed on the ice and benches for hockey games, including players, coaches, the referee and the timekeeper.

Another application sought to raise the eight-person limit to 12 in dressing rooms for players over the age of 12 years.

In addition, there was an application for the GNWT to allow more than just parents of children 12 years of age and under to be allowed in the bleachers.

“We have submitted a request for increasing occupancy in three different areas, but it appears that those occupancies will remain the same for the time being,” Millette told council. “I’ve been updating user groups on those communications.”

A request to the GNWT by The Hub for comment on the town’s applications was unsuccessful last week.

However, Kandola spoke during her Nov. 18 media availability in regards to her general concerns about the coming Christmas season.

“We have a few critical months ahead of us as we receive more travellers into the territory for the holidays,” she said, noting Covid-19 activity is at an all-time high in most of Canada.

Right now, Covid-19 is being contained in the NWT, Kandola said.

“Our only risk is that people travelling in, including NWT residents, will bring virus into our communities,” she said. “The risk of importation has never been higher and it will only grow in the coming weeks.”

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Paul Bickford

Paul Bickford is the reporter for Hay River Hub.

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