Coronavirus still keeping many Nova Scotia sports competitions on the bench

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Nova Scotia has had no cases or low numbers of COVID-19 cases for months.

Businesses have reopened, travel is allowed between Atlantic provinces and parks have long been reopened with people being encouraged to get out and active.

But while golf and tennis were among the activities being allowed during the initial easing of restrictions, restrictions for many team sports have remained.

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Since the group gathering limits have increased, now allowing up to 10 people to gather without social distancing and 50 people to gather with social distancing, many sports associations have received approval for their return-to-play plans -— but only for practicing and skill development. Organized competitions remain off the table.

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15-year-old Daniel Carter has been playing baseball for 10 years and while he’s happy to be out on the field throwing and hitting the ball around with his friends, he’s anxious to get in some actual games this year.

“Very eager, I keep checking  the baseball website twitter to see if anything at all is being posted,” said Daniel.

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His father, Bob Carter, is president of Halifax Minor Baseball and says the sport is one that lends itself well to physical distancing protocols.

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“It’s outdoors, the fields are very big, the players are generally spread out and as long as you don’t have steals or tag plays, there’s no reason for a fielder or runner to be near each other,” said Carter.

He says Baseball Nova Scotia is waiting on approval for Phase 2 of their return-to-play plan, which would allow for leagues to organize some games.

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Some of the rule changes would include moving the umpire to behind the pitcher instead of near the batter, getting rid of catchers in the younger age groups, having more balls on hand to limit players all constantly touching the same object, and getting rid of high-fives and handshakes.

“There’s no sharing equipment the kids will not be in the dugout sitting together, they’ll be outside the dugout spread apart, there will be hand sanitizer everywhere for kids to use,” said Carter.

The proposed rules are similar to what their partner associations in New Brunswick and PEI have proposed. Organized games have resumed in both those provinces, leaving those in Nova Scotia wondering why not here as well.

“I’ve gotten really jealous,” said Daniel, “because I want to do that.”

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The Department of Communities Culture and Heritage could not say why Baseball Nova Scotia is still not allowing competition, but in a statement, said, “we are working with public health and our partners, including Sport Nova Scotia, to review the current guidelines in light of changing epidemiology.”

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Meanwhile, even sports that have had their plans approved don’t have all leagues and camps up and running.

Last week, Volleyball Nova Scotia started games for its adult and some teen leagues.

Many groups that organize play for younger groups between 10-15 are largely volunteer-run and haven’t started anything just yet.

“Given all the protocols and the amount of sanitization, whether it’s your hands or the volleyballs and keeping people distance and the waivers and the insurance, it’s a little daunting for volunteers,” said Jason Trepanier, executive director for Volleyball Nova Scotia.

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