Keeping its membership and player base safe from COVID-19 will be the Quesnel Curling Centre’s top priority when it opens for the 2020/21 season.
Dave Plant, the QCC co-ordinator, said concrete details will be ironed out among the executive at an upcoming meeting, however, noted several safety precautions will be implemented as the centre plans for a scheduled opening date of Oct. 1, 2020.
“We will do our due diligence,” Plant said. “We’re still waiting, but we’re in weekly contact with Curl BC and they’re going to come up with some different protocols and phases in order to get open and we will follow those Curl BC and Curling Canada guidelines on how to operate.”
Much like any other sport looking to make a return in the coronavirus pandemic world, Plant said there will be lots of changes and noted hopefully the centre’s curlers understand those changes will be good for the sport and safety of members.
“That’s the key: to keep everybody safe,” he said. “Especially with the demographic of our age group, which is the same at most curling centres, is of the elderly variety. I think the average age would be in the 50s, so we are going to do whatever we can to make it safe.”
As for what that will look like, Plant pointed to several precautions that will likely be implemented come curling season including having lockers off limits, allowing just one sweeper per rock unless they are from the same household and wiping down rock handles prior to every game.
He said there will be no overlapping of the centre’s various leagues so people won’t be waiting around in the lobby area to play.
There’s also potential for plexiglass or coroplast to be installed up to each sheet’s hog line.
“Once your league is done you’ll either have to leave the building or go upstairs,” he said. “There will be a turnover of about 15 minutes for the next league to show up.”
Outside of the centre’s day-to-day operations, Plant said some of the biggest changes will affect the QCC’s various bonspiels held throughout the season.
“We’re a six-sheet facility,” he said. “If all six sheets are running that’s still under 50 people which is under the [COVID-19] guidelines … upstairs you could certainly host 12 teams with enough room to space the tables out, and each team sticks to their own table.”
Other changes could see the QCC only accept the first 12 teams on a first-come-first-served basis.
“There are ways we can do things and there are lots of suggestions coming from Curl BC and Curling Canada and we’ll take all that information as an executive and let membership know how they’re going to run things,” he said.
The QCC hosts five club bonspiels along with three corporate events annually during curling season.
How the pandemic affects the centre’s financial situation moving forward is another big question mark for Plant.
“If you look at our day-to-day events there’s very little activity in the lounge area for those compared to the big, bonspiel events … I would think the financial end of that stuff is going to be huge, so we’ve got to figure out if we can run these things and make a little bit of money and keep everybody safe,” he said.
“That’s still got to be the No. 1 priority.”