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Sports and rec on hold for three weeks with new health restrictions

"I know other businesses are in way worse positions than me ... but voluntarily closing and taking care of our students and staff was equally as important as keeping our business running – if not more important."

BOW VALLEY – Alberta's newest public health restrictions will suspend operations for many indoor and outdoor sports and recreation clubs for at least three weeks starting May 10.

On Wednesday (May 5), Premier Jason Kenney said the new changes coming to Alberta are "tough, but absolutely necessary" to stop the spike of the third wave of COVID-19.

"We must act to bend the curve one last time," said Kenney at a press conference.

Among the new restrictions, the sports and recreation community will have to readjust until at least the start of June as a result of all outdoor sports and recreation being prohibited except with members of your household or, if living alone, two close contacts.

Included in the new restrictions are all practices, performance activity, team sports, group fitness classes, and one-on-one lessons.

Owner of Canmore Dance Corps Jill Danielson thinks Alberta's latest restrictions to sports and rec have come late, but are for the greater good.

The local business owner voluntarily shut down the dance studio on April 26 as she felt it was "too dangerous and too reckless" to continue operating with a rapidly increasing number of COVID cases in the province.

"In my role as a mentor to all these children and these teens, I just kept thinking if something bad happened and somebody ends up in the hospital because of an exposure that happened in our studio, while it would be no one's fault, I would feel partially responsible for that," said Danielson. "If it did happen I would look back and say, 'Jill, you should have stopped it before it got to that point.' "

The dance and performance business has about 100 members currently aged between five and 18, and Danielson said she started feeling nervous about the situation after spring break, especially with some staff coming in from Calgary.

She added she couldn't stomach staying open anymore, but was nervous about feedback.

As many sports clubs and organizations want to remain open, and with fewer restrictions in place, Danielson was hesitant to express her opinion publicly. However, as a business owner, Danielson said she would have appreciated reading about other dance studios voluntarily closing their doors.

"At this point in the COVID game, I feel like I would find solace in hearing from other people who made really hard decisions outside the government restrictions," said Danielson. "And it's not to insinuate any [other businesses] should have done that at all. I know other businesses are in way worse positions than me ... but voluntarily closing and taking care of our students and staff was equally as important as keeping our business running – if not more important."

Danielson's uncertain on when she'll feel safe enough re-open when COVID restrictions allow. The only thing she knows is the case number will need to come down.

"But we're going to have to wait and see what happens," said Danielson.

As part of the new restrictions announced by Kenney, he said businesses where there is an outbreak of the virus would have to close for 10 business days. 

As of Wednesday (May 5), Sunshine Village Ski Resort was listed as an outbreak site on Alberta. The Outlook reached out to Alberta Health Services and Sunshine to better understand how this new restriction would affect the only ski hill in Banff National Park still open for the season; however, no response was received prior to press deadlines. 

"Any workplace where a transmission leads to three or more cases will also be required to close for 10 days, except in situations where a closure would be against the public interest," said Minister of Health Tyler Shandro during the press conference. 

Jordan Small

About the Author: Jordan Small

Jordan Small joined the Outlook in 2014 and covers the vast world of sports in the Bow Valley. A Barrie, Ont. native, he also wrote for RMO's Mountain Guide section and the MD of Bighorn beat.
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