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Manitoba curling clubs lobby for the return of recreational gameplay

Click to play video: 'Manitoba curling clubs push for return to recreational gameplay' Manitoba curling clubs push for return to recreational gameplay
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For Manitoba curlers, now is the time of year that bonspiels and season-ending events usually take over the calendar, but recreational gameplay is still prohibited under the province’s current public health orders.

Clubs across the province are clinging to hope that gameplay will be given the green light soon.

“Since last March 19, a year ago, we’ve been closed for 207 days,” said Lorne Hamblin, the general manager at the Morris Curling Club.

Lorne Hamblin, the general manager of the Morris curling club in Morris, Manitoba. Marek Tkach / Global News

“We were closed on March 19th, opened on July 7th and then closed Nov. 9th and re-opened on Feb. 12th,” he continued.

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Curlers weren’t even allowed back on the ice for instructional purposes until March 5th.

Read more: Coronavirus: New BC curling rules aim to reduce contact during games

The earliest gameplay will be able to return is on April 15th, when the next set of restrictions is set to be released.

“It’s getting to the close of the curling season at the moment, so whether they do it now or in the fall, here at Morris there’s bonspiels all throughout the summer so the sooner the better,” said amateur curler Rachel Harms.

The club in Morris worked with Curling Canada to create videos and guidelines showing how the sport can be played safely in a modified fashion.

“It’s not like what you see on TV with the Scotties and Brier,” said Hamblin.

Curlers, he explained, “have to stay socially distanced when they change positions and move around, so 100 per cent of the time they’re apart.”

A curling Canada demonstration video showing safe gameplay filmed at the Morris curling club earlier this year. Curling Canada

Both recreational and professional curlers are holding out hope that the extra measures might be enough to get the go-ahead on April 15th.

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“Obviously it’s a lot financially to keep the plant going, but I think that Morris has done a great job keeping the plant going and it’s good that we’ll have summer ice,” said the lead for Tracy Fleury’s team, Kristin McCuish.

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Other clubs like the Granite in Winnipeg set a deadline of March 30th, otherwise plans for removing the ice would begin.

“We were analyzing it month by month, trying to figure out whether it was best to keep the ice in for another month based on restrictions, but really the main cost was already incurred when we put the ice in back in September,” says the club’s president, Luc Dauriac.

He says the club has taken a hit of over $100,000 in league and membership reimbursements on top of maintenance costs.

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Dauriac along with others hopes when the ice returns this fall, it’ll be accompanied by the social atmosphere and camaraderie the sport has become accustomed to.

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