Jennifer McCabe of Langley prepared to take a shot at the Special Olympics bonspiel held at the Langley Centre in 2018. When play resumes, likely in October, people will be expected to keep a safe distance.(Langley Advance Times file)

Curling returns to Langley

Plans call for resumption of play in the first week of October, with COVID-19 precautions

If all goes well, curling will resume at the Langley Curling Centre by the first week of October, centre manager Robyn Parkes expects.

“As far as we know,” Parkes told the Langley Advance Times.

“The Township [of Langley] has verified that we’re going to open the building [at George Preston Recreation Centre].”

Parkes said the plan is to go for 10 weeks until Christmas, then re-assess.

Between now and then, for play to resume, the Township will have to sign off on a return-to-play plan submitted by the curling club, which makes a number of changes to maintain safety during the COVID-19 pandemic.

READ ALSO: Langley sports groups suffer widespread shutdowns due to COVID-19

As filed, the plan will limit the number of people who can play on the ice and who can watch off the ice – to preserve safe social distancing.

Start times will be staggered and the game itself will be a “little different,” Parkes said, with only one sweeper allowed at a time, and players expected to keep their distance.

“There’s no sitting around having coffee afterwards,” Parkes warned, noting it’s traditionally a very social sport.

Among the preliminary guidelines posted to the www.langleycurlingclub website, all curlers will be asked to complete a standard COVID-19 waiver during registration.

“Masks are mandatory in the lounge and will be available at the door,” the document states.

“Masks [are] to be worn until ice surface is reached and then, kept in pocket. Members must come dressed for the game with the exceptions of shoes.”

A Plexiglas divider will be installed at the front counter, and there will be no entry to the office or pro shop unless a mask is worn and invitation extended.

Curlers coming off the ice will have 10 minutes to exit lounge, and curlers arriving cannot enter the lounge more than 20 minutes before the game.

For at least the first two weeks, volunteers and board members will be present throughout the usable areas of the facility, “to assess guidelines and [assist] users with new rules and protocols. “

All invitational bonspiels, luncheons, and events have been cancelled and will re-evaluated in January.

Parkes refers to it as a “for-fun” season, and a good opportunity for people new to the game to try the sport.

Once the centre gets the green light, preparations can begin, Parkes said.

“Our ice isn’t even in yet,” she noted.

READ ALSO: Volunteers; the rock behind every curling tournament

On the website, the centre has been conducting an online survey of potential players, quizzing them about possible COVID-19 safety measures.

Among other things, it asks how people are currently feeling about a return to curling in the fall, with choices ranging from “will not participate until a vaccine is available” to “will participate no matter what.”

It also asks if players would be willing to wear a face mask or face shield on the ice.

“We want to move forward cautiously and safely for the sake of our staff, our members and our community,” the website message said.

It advises the website will be updated on Saturday, Sept. 12 with information about registration, instruction and the pro shop sale.

And it appeals for volunteers to help manage flow and process in the first few weeks of curling.

“Without volunteers the club may need to hire assistants, which will reflect in registration costs,” the message warns.

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