There has been a lot of concern and, with that, questions surrounding when our skaters will be able to resume on-ice activities. The answer to this is somewhat more complicated than it appears at first glance.
There are several layers of restriction that we are facing and these are described below:
We are currently under lockdown at a National Government level where various activities, including figure skating, are prohibited. This is beyond any sector or organisational authority, including ours and our affiliates. When we do move into a phase where we are allowed to resume skating according to lockdown or other government rules, we will then be faced with the practical realities faced by the rinks and their landlords, all of whom fall under the entertainment sector.
From what we currently know, the legislation and requirements needed to be upheld are very restrictive and burdensome. Rinks and their landlords will each be responsible for various protective measures and will be required to manage this on an ongoing basis. Without going into every detail, it must be noted that there is a lot of responsibility that will be placed on the ice rinks themselves, as well as SAFSA, who will be making use of these facilities for its members. It will also be very costly.
There are strict protocols that will need to be followed to prevent the spread of COVID-19 as well as what to do (and what will happen) should an infection occur. When we go back, it may not be based on whether we are allowed, but rather on whether it is practical to do so, and viable for the rinks to be open.
SAFSA have been in constant communication with the various role-players and government agencies and we are complying with their requests, while making them aware of our circumstances.
As information and knowledge around the disease is forever changing, we are often having to make decisions without possibly having all the information. For this reason we are forced to not only comply with the regulations, but to rather be too cautious, than not cautious enough.
We all want to get back to skating as soon as possible, but we also need to ensure that when we do get to go back, we are able to accommodate all of our members and give them meaningful and viable training time without it needing to be prohibitively expensive. The situation is not ideal, but it has allowed many of us to rest and recharge. Since we have no option but to stay away from our rinks, we should make use of this time to attend to our other demands and so that when we return, we can hit the ground running with little distraction.
Our skaters are some of the most determined and hardworking people in the country and it will not take long before they are all back at their best, possibly even better