Whitehorse Daily Star

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REFRAIN FROM PLAY – The Whitehorse Curling Club is asking its membership to stay away from the rink for two weeks if they have recently travelled to the Lower Mainland and Fraser valley.

Curling club members asked to stay home after any B.C. foray

Due to spiking COVID-19 infection rates in the Lower Mainland and Fraser valley, B.C's chief medical officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry has directed recreation facilities to close for two weeks until Nov. 23.

By John Tonin on November 12, 2020

Due to spiking COVID-19 infection rates in the Lower Mainland and Fraser valley, B.C's chief medical officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry has directed recreation facilities to close for two weeks until Nov. 23.

Upon hearing this news, the Whitehorse Curling Club is asking all its curlers to remain home for two weeks if they have recently returned from the Lower Mainland.

Bob Walker, the curling club's manager, said the its financial health can only be guaranteed if the curling club remains open. A COVID-19 closure wiould interrupt or end the curling season.

A closure, Walker said, can threaten the club's very existence.

Throughout the summer, Walker said, the club lost revenue from bookings, and did not receive any bingo revenue. This means the club did not earn the-about $40,000 it usually does.

"We've also seen lower registration because of COVID and higher costs," said Walker.

If the club was forced to close, it would still have to pay rent and the hydro bill. Walker said the rent is $4,500 a month to the city, and, while the ice plant is running, hydro is about $10,000 a month.

Walker said the club could withstand a two-week closure.

"We could manage it, but the concern would be the quality of the curling ice," said Walker.

The club developed its COVID plans in the summer, focusing on how, to the best of its ability, it could provide a venue for the membership.

"When planning for reopening, our priority was to get back on the ice safely," said Walker. “We considered the return to curl as a phased approach so we could work out the bugs. We are in fine shape as long as we keep playing."

The lounge is open at the club and curlers can have a pint after their draw. What the club hasn't addressed yet, said Walker, is food sales on Fridays, and bonspiels.

"We are going to talk about it in the new calendar year," said Walker. "The biggest challenge for bonspiels is numbers. We will continue to build on what we are doing while reacting."

Walker said the club's responsibility is to make sure people can keep curling, and that is the main focus.

"I'm afraid if COVID were to show up, it would be a bad outcome for the club," said Walker. "We are going to be cautious to the extreme but it is better to be that way."

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