Some northern Ontario curling clubs are making the return to play — with safety top-of-mind
'A lot of the clubs that are opening fully understand they're not going to have a profitable season'
Curlers across the region are starting to get back on the ice for the season, and many clubs have already opened or are getting ready to open this week.
Curling Canada has issued return-to-play guidelines to help clubs reopen safely. And while it will be a different way of playing during a pandemic, the head of the Northern Ontario Curling Association says the spirit of the game is still there.
"It feels good to be back out on the ice," said Bobby Ray, who's also a member of the North Bay Granite Curling Club.
"It feels different given that you're wearing a mask, you're having to pay more attention to just the game because you're thinking about where you're standing and how your interactions are affecting other people."
Across northern Ontario, five clubs have announced they will not open this year, including clubs in Blind River, Matheson and Thessalon.
Ray says the clubs that are opening may have fewer people in them.
"To be completely transparent, I think of a lot of the clubs that are opening fully understand they're not going to have a profitable season," he said.
"I think lots have even accepted that this is a time to dig into the reserves. I mean, if not for a worldwide pandemic, then what good reason would there be to use reserves?"
Curling Canada's return-to-play guidelines include practising physical distancing on ice and wearing a mask while playing.
With files from Martha Dillman