Williams Lake Minor Hockey Association president Mike Rispin addresses city council at its regular meeting Tuesday, Oct. 20 to ask the City to rescind its no-spectator policy. The order was rescinded that evening and on Friday, Oct. 24 the City released COVID-19 policy updates. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)

New COVID-19 restrictions tap brakes on rep hockey travel for now

WLMHA president Mike Rispin responds to latest COVID-19 guidelines

Williams Lake Minor Hockey Association president Mike Rispin, along with hundreds of players and parents, are attempting to wrap their heads around the latest round of COVID-19 restrictions surrounding sports.

During her Thursday, Nov. 19 daily briefing, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said while they will continue with ViaSport’s Phase 3 in its return to sport guidelines, there will be no spectators allowed at indoor or outdoor sports, and there will be no travel for any of these sports outside local communities.

Williams Lake and Quesnel have been enjoying limited spectators at games, while rep teams have been travelling within their cohorts since October.

What today’s announcement will mean for Phase 3 of ViaSports return to play guidelines remains unclear for already established minor hockey, regional cohorts.

Rispin, who noted his phone has been ringing off the hook since the news broke, said a travel ban would be the most difficult part for small, northern towns that have just one, competitive rep team per age group.

“While I appreciate the fact that the numbers have been rising, and this also results in an increase in deaths, I just think this is too broad,” Rispin said.

“You can limit phase 3 activities to local communities, which is great if your community has the ability to do that, but our small, northern locations have one team at each level. Great, you left us phase 3 activities for sports, but nobody to play against in our local community.”

He said if the restrictions affect regional cohorts and remain for an extended period of time WLMHA will look at reorganizing its house teams to give rep players an opportunity to play. Thursday’s latest announcement could also have financial ramifications for WLMHA, he said.

“As for no spectators, luckily we’ve already got a plan to deal with it,” Rispin said. “We’ll still need volunteers in the building, but I want to make it very clear they’re there to assist with players and security, not be defacto spectators.”

For now, though, Rispin added he’s just happy players still have the chance to play hockey.

greg.sabatino@wltribune.comLike us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

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