Nova Scotia

Rec centres slowly reopen under restrictions, Halifax beaches to get lifeguards

Recreational facilities across Nova Scotia are cautiously reopening after shutting down in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

'You come in your gear, you put [on] your skates ... they have to stay six feet apart on the ice'

The Centennial Arena, shown here in 2017, began booking ice time again last week. (Paul Palmeter/CBC)

Recreational facilities across Nova Scotia are cautiously reopening after shutting down in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Centennial Arena in Halifax began booking ice time on June 15, with a 10-person limit and no access to dressing rooms or showers.

"You come in your gear, you put [on] your skates, no body contact, they have to stay six feet apart on the ice," said Stuart Poteri, who operates the rink. "Everybody is doing exactly what we say and leaving with big smiles on their face."

Halifax municipal beaches, which reopened last month, will have lifeguards stationed at them beginning July 6, until Aug. 31.

A few splash pads will reopen on June 29. They include at the Halifax Common, Sackville (Kinsmen), George Dixon Centre, Isleville Street and Westmount, the municipality said in a release on Wednesday. Due to local construction, the Bayers-Westwood splash pad is expected to open in mid-July.

All municipal pools remain closed until further notice.  

Oval reopens pavilion, but no rentals

Public washrooms and first aid at the Emera Oval pavilion will also open July 6. The facility will be open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday to Friday, and noon to 9 p.m. on weekends. 

Rentals will not be available until further notice, but residents are welcome to use the Oval for cycling and rollerblading with their own equipment.

In the Halifax area, fitness centres at the Captain William Spry Community Centre, Sackville Sports Stadium and Musquodoboit Harbour Recreation Centre are set to open July 6.

The municipality said Wednesday these locations were approved to open as they are the largest municipally-operated fitness facilities. 

All other municipally-owned fitness centres will remain closed until further notice, and members will be given access to the three reopened centres.

To keep patrons and staff safe, and optimize access for as many people as possible, access to the fitness centre or attendance at a fitness class will be available by appointment only. Appointments can be booked over the phone after July 4, or online.

The Queens Place Emera Centre in Liverpool reopened on Monday to those who were current members or had purchased punch cards at the time of the shutdown. People will have to make appointments to use the gym equipment or indoor track.

"We have a 15-person maximum and everything is spaced with physical distancing in mind," said Meaghan Roberts, the director of recreation for the Region of Queens. "Change rooms are available but our showers are closed for the time being."

Roberts said the facility expects to move into Phase 2 of its reopening plan after a couple of weeks. That's when fitness classes will be offered once again. In Phase 3, the ice surface will be reinstalled, probably in early September.

The gymnasium at the Zatzman Sportsplex in Dartmouth is reopening, but by appointment only. (Steve Lawrence/CBC)

Both Cole Harbour Place and the Zatzman Sportsplex were reopening on Wednesday.

At the Sportsplex, the track, the fitness centre, the squash and racquetball courts and the gymnasium for family times are open by appointment only.

The pool, arena and child-minding service are not available yet, and while washrooms are open, the locker rooms are not. Everyone is expected to show up already dressed for a chosen activity.

The first two weeks are free and are for people who were members before the closure. Sportsplex officials said since services are limited, no one's membership payments will be restarted until September at the earliest.

After July 6, there will be a fee charged for each activity: $5 for the general public, $3 for those with memberships.

At Cole Harbour, the conditions and restrictions are similar. It has a time for seniors and people who are immunocompromised between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m. Water fountains are closed, along with the aquatic centre and the free-weight room. Only one person is allowed on the elevator.

Other municipal partner recreation facilities like the Canada Games Centre, Halifax Forum and RBC Centre are beginning to reopen to clients over the coming weeks. 

People should contact each facility directly for information about their opening dates and new procedures, the municipality said.

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With files from Haley Ryan

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