City introducing booking system to manage crowds at outdoor rinks
Sticks, pucks banned from all rinks in effort to slow community spread of COVID-19
People hoping to skate on Ottawa's four refrigerated outdoor rinks will soon have to book an appointment as the city tightens restrictions at crowded winter recreation venues to manage the spread of COVID-19.
The booking system is part of an order issued by the city's medical officer of health Dr. Vera Etches on Thursday. The order also imposes a 25-person limit at all outdoor rinks and sledding hills.
The 45-minute skating slots cover the following rinks and hours:
- Rink of Dreams at city hall from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily.
- Jim Tubman Chevrolet Rink of Dreams at the Canterbury Recreation Complex from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on weekends and 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. on weekdays.
- Lansdowne Park Skating Court from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. on weekends and 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. on weekdays.
- Ben Franklin Place Skating Rink from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. on weekends and 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. on weekdays.
Some hours are subject to change, the city said. Skaters must provide confirmation of their reservation before stepping on the ice. While masks are mandatory in the public areas around the rinks, they're not mandatory on the ice, though Ottawa Public Health encourages skaters to wear them.
In compliance with a provincewide ban on team sports that went into effect when Ontario entered lockdown Dec. 26, the city will also prohibit sticks, pucks and other sports equipment at all outdoor rinks.
That effectively bans outdoor hockey in Ottawa, and while the city's bylaw department has said its officers will proactively enforce the rules, Etches said earlier this week she'd like the focus to be on education rather than enforcement.
Etches said the level of community spread of COVID-19 in the capital is higher than ever, prompting the new restrictions.