Capacity limits coming to skiing, sledding and skating facilities in Ottawa

Skating rinks, ski trails and toboggan hills in Ottawa will all have reduced capacity limits starting on Sunday. 

The limits come into effect Sunday and apply to both city and private facilities

A skater comes to a sudden stop on the Rink of Dreams outside Ottawa City Hall on Dec. 3, 2021, the first day this season the rink was open. As of Boxing Day, the refrigerated rink will have a capacity limit posted on-site. (Jean Delisle/CBC)

Skating rinks, ski trails and toboggan hills in Ottawa will all have reduced capacity limits starting on Sunday.

Dr. Vera Etches, the city's medical officer of health, said Thursday the capacity of skating rinks will be limited to the number of people who can physically distance, up to a maximum of 25 people.

Smaller neighbourhood rinks may have a capacity of fewer than 25 people, but limits will be posted once they open.

The same goes for the city's outdoor refrigerated rinks — limits will be posted.

For other amenities, the 25-person limit will apply to any congestion points like trailheads or the top of a sledding hill. 

The restrictions go into effect at 12:01 a.m. on Boxing Day, the City of Ottawa said in a press release, and apply to both municipal and private facilities. 

Facilities may also implement one-way traffic flow or other measures to reduce close contact. Places that fail to follow the restrictions may be fined. 

Masks required 

Both users and spectators of the outdoor amenities must also be masked.

"The risk of transmission is elevated in outdoor spaces when there is crowding, close contact, prolonged exposure and forceful exhalation (e.g., individuals physically exerting themselves by participating in sports and recreation activities)," Etches said in her letter of instruction to the amenities. 

Indoor change rooms and clubhouses will be closed to the public, though washrooms will still be accessible. Masks will be required there, too.

Etches said these measures will allow people to continue enjoying the outdoors while limiting the spread of the Omicron variant. 

"Without prompt intervention such as these additional public health measures, ICU occupancy [in Ontario] could reach unsustainable levels early in January," she said.