Coronavirus: Regina ball parks, athletic fields to reopen as leagues ready return to play

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Coronavirus: Regina ball parks, athletic fields to reopen as leagues ready return to play
WATCH: Eight ball parks in Regina will be ready to play on starting Monday. Daniella Ponticelli has the details – Jun 20, 2020

The City of Regina will have eight of its ball parks ready for Phase 4.1 of the Re-open Saskatchewan Plan starting Monday.

On Friday, the city said crews started preparing the parks following the provincial government’s announcement that the phase would launch June 22.

“We’re quite happy to get them back out on the field, or out on the ball diamonds this week, people have been waiting for these opportunities,” said Rod Schmidt, City of Regina Sport Facilities & Special Events manager.

The first locations include Broad and 9th Avenue North, Columbus Park, Kiwanis Park, Kiwanis Park North, Lions Park, Pacers Park, Optimist Park and Douglas Park.

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“Those facilities, we have agreements with them. They’ve been doing some work maintaining those diamonds,” Schmidt said, adding the leagues that use the facilities do a lot of the in-field work.

All other ballparks and athletic fields, including lawn bowling greens, will open for scheduled use on June 27.

Regular booking procedures for athletic fields and ball diamonds are in place.

Schmidt said three parks department staff members have returned to work to handle the extra maintenance, given the city initially scaled back those efforts in spring.

“We are moving back to the full cutting cycles, the full watering cycles, full irrigation, full fertilization,” he said, noting some leagues may see excess grass clippings in the process.

“Some of the groups may end up dealing with a little bit of ‘hay,’ as they call it, on those fields. But it breaks up and we can sweep it off too.”

The city said it’s working co-operatively with community sports organizations to ensure guidelines are followed for the safety of athletes, coaches, managers and parents.

“They need to work with either their provincial organizations or national organizations to ensure they’re identifying the sanitizations required for equipment,” Schmidt said.

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The outdoor and recreation spaces are initially opening for training purposes only, as no competitive or game play is allowed until the province decides.

When is it time to play?

Schmidt noted that while sports organizations submitted their permits for outdoor field and diamond use mid-winter, the city held off releasing them until it knew the venues could open.

Regina Rec League, which offers multiple seasonal sports, told Global News Friday morning it was waiting on its permits to secure a start date.

“Nothing can resume until the city releases permits, which all organizations are waiting on … we are hopeful our leagues will be able to start up July 5th, but that date may be delayed,” the league stated in an email.

Some outdoor sports and recreation leagues, however, have made the call not to move ahead with a 2020 summer season.

Gerry Hellquist, the general manager or the Regina Summer Sand Volleyball League (RSSVL), described the challenges in an email to Global News.

“Sask Volleyball released their Return to Play protocols and after talking to [the CEO], there is just no way that our league can operate at this time,” Hellquist said.
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He noted that the protocols limit the number of total players on the court to six at one time, and the focus will be on skill development only.

“And the extra cleaning and legal ramifications make it absolutely impossible a league our size can even come close to starting,” Hellquist said, adding there’s still confusion over how the province is managing it’s reopen for sports leagues.

“We are told being outdoors is safer than indoors, but 30 people can gather indoors [as of June 22], but six people can’t get together outdoors and play a fun game of beach volleyball.”
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The Saskatchewan government is asking all outdoor sports and recreation groups to maintain as physical distance as much as possible.

“Of course, there are a number of guidelines that must be followed to keep everyone safe… they include things like no tournaments or inter-provincial travel for our sports teams, no handshakes, no high fives, which will be difficult,” Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe said in an update June 16.

Phase 4.1 of the province’s reopen plan will also allow outdoor pools and spray pads to open, along with child and youth day camps.

Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out. In situations where you can’t keep a safe distance from others, public health officials recommend the use of a non-medical face mask or covering to prevent spreading the respiratory droplets that can carry the virus.

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For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.

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