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Large crowds at Ottawa skating rink ‘Rink of Dreams’ raises concerns

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Videos posted on Twitter over the weekend from the ‘Rink of Dreams’ outdoor skating rink at Ottawa City Hall’s Marion Dewar Plaza raise crowding concerns during the provincewide COVID-19 lockdown.

The videos posted by Ottawa food writer, Sarp Kizir have already received over 10,000 views, and they clearly show large groups of people standing around, as well as skating seemingly too close together.

“Today’s generous estimate is that about 30% of skaters on the rink are not wearing masks. Not a lot of social distancing,” tweeted Kizir.

The crowds at Ottawa City Hall’s ‘Rink of Dreams’ over the weekend are a shining example of why city’s like Toronto require skaters to pre-book one-hour time slots to a maximum capacity of 25 at all their outdoor rinks and skate trails.

Ottawa does require registration for its indoor rinks but for skating outside this is not the case at the moment.

Meanwhile the City of Ottawa website stipulates that skaters who are not from the same household must maintain a distance of two metres from all other skaters at all times.

Under Ottawa’s Temporary Mandatory Mask By-law issued on December 30, anyone standing on the ice or within 15 metres of the edge of the ice surface, is required to wear a mask. Those actively skating on the rinks are not required to be wearing masks are but public health does recommend that they continue to wear them.

The City says that rink attendants are onsite during peak periods to ensure capacity limits are maintained but there is no mention of exactly what the capacity limits are. The site says: “Each rink has its own capacity limit, based on the size of the ice surface, to ensure all skaters can maintain proper physical distancing.”

The city’s website states the following COVID-19 safety measures for outdoor rinks:

  • Masks must be worn around all public outdoor rinks and while on the ice and not skating. Masks are not mandatory while skating but are highly recommended. Skaters who are not from the same household must keep two metres apart on and off the ice.
  • Access is on a first-come first-served basis.
  • Rink attendants are onsite during peak periods to ensure capacity limits are maintained. During peak periods, we will be changing out groups of skaters on the hour, to ensure everyone gets a chance to skate.
  • Additional benches and seating are provided for skaters to change outside.
  • Portable washrooms will be available on-site and masks must be worn upon entering
  • Follow the safety measures in place at City facilities to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
  • No hockey or other team sports are permitted on the ice and skaters must maintain a two-metre distance from people outside their household.

During peak periods, the City says they will be changing out groups of skaters on the hour, to ensure everyone gets a chance to skate. Although that did not seem to be the case over the weekend at the ‘Rink of Dreams’ at Marion Dewar Plaza.

Meanwhile, Kizir did point out a couple of hours later that skating at the Lansdowne rink was a much better and safer experience.

In terms of how the the city will deal with crowd control on the Rideau Skateway which is expected to open soon, they say, “We are working within public health guidelines for the COVID-19 pandemic. Rest assured that the necessary health and safety measures will be put in place for the 51st skating season.”

by OTT Times Staff

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