Sports will happen on P.E.I. this summer, but they may look different

Sports will be played on P.E.I. fields, diamonds and fairways this summer, but it may look different to spectators and participants.

Organizations making plans for how to compete with COVID-19 in mind

Stanhope Golf Club opened on Friday with only one person permitted in a golf car at a time. (Ken Linton/CBC)

Sports will be played on P.E.I. fields, diamonds and fairways this summer, but it may look different to spectators and participants.

The first bogeys of the year were recorded Friday as COVID-19 restrictions were lifted on golf courses. 

Other outdoor sports, such as baseball, soccer, football and tennis, will be allowed to begin June 12 if all goes well. Swimming pools, bowling alleys, gyms and yoga studios may also be able open.

Merlin Affleck, general manager of Stanhope Golf and Country Club, said golfers have been keen to play their first round even with strict physical distancing rules in place.

"After being shut in for six weeks, everybody is listening to our rules, they're staying six feet apart, we have one person per drive cart, and one person in the clubhouse at a time," he said.

"So everybody is just really happy to be out and we have very fair rules that everyone can comply by."

Stanhope is allowing only four people on the putting green at a time. (Ken Linton/CBC)

Though only a couple of courses opened Friday, Golf PEI expects most to be open by May 22.

Baseball season on P.E.I. will be starting about a month later than usual. 

Randy Byrne, executive director of Baseball P.E.I., said the organization is still working out what changes will be needed to meet health requirements.

He thinks it will be July 1 before the first pitches are thrown and expects out-of-province travel for tournaments won't be happening. But everyone is still excited, he said.

'Dramatic steps' in B.C.

"We still have a lot of work before that day comes," he said.

"I know in talking to some other provinces, for example British Columbia and Manitoba, they've already come out with a draft of the return-to-play guidelines, especially in B.C. There's some pretty dramatic steps such as the use of everybody having facemasks, disinfecting everything, parents staying in cars, that sort of thing. We've started planning some return-to-play things. It's really hard to predict what will happen."

Baseball games may not begin until July 1, officials say. (Shutterstock)

Officials with Special Olympics P.E.I. are also planning for the spring and summer.

Some events, such as the bowling provincials in May, have already been cancelled. 

Athletes and coaches have stayed connected through social media but they are looking forward to being together again, said Charity Sheehan, executive director of Special Olympics P.E.I.

Volunteers needed for Special Olympics

Sheehan said Special Olympics P.E.I. plans to recruit more volunteers to help deliver all the programs.

"Some of our programs are fairly big and they won't meet the criteria in keeping people safe," she said. 

"So we may have to do that multiple times a week and split up our programs and making sure that we have the volunteer base to do that will be one of our biggest challenges I think going forward."

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With files from Angela Walker