Local hockey players and parents stood outside of the Centennial Centre in Bonnyville on Tuesday afternoon asking to be able to return to the ice.
Tanya Lessard, who has three kids in hockey and is also a billet parent for the Bonnyville Jr. A Pontiacs, said it’s been a sad state of affairs for their family, as an outlet they typically use during the winter is not allowed.
“It’s really sad because it’s my daughter’s last year of hockey. My son just made the triple-A team this year, which was a big deal for us. And no, he’s not playing. Our billets got sent home,” she said.
“It’s been really sad, and the boys especially, they use that exercise for their mental health.”
With no word yet from the province on when public health orders for return to sport could be lifted, rallies across Alberta commenced on Tuesday after Bentley Minor Hockey Association reached out to groups provincewide to participate in the Let Them Play Marches.
The kids wore masks and followed the current health protocols during the rally.
Juanita Goreniuk, a local hockey parent of a AA Bantam Panther, said she hopes restrictions can go back to November, when sports was still allowed.
“He’s really missing hockey. He’s missing the social skills. He’s missing his friends. He’s missing the game and he wants to get back at it,” she said. “Please let them play.”
Alberta’s chief medical officer Dr. Deena Hinshaw and the provincial caucus has not put out a date on when the current restrictions will be re-evaluated, saying “we need to give it a bit more time.”
“Essentially what we’re doing is watching our hospitalizations, watching our ICU numbers particularly. Of course, it is encouraging to see the leading indicators of our case counts and our positivity rate are going down,” said Dr. Hinshaw during the Jan. 21 daily COVID briefing.
“But ultimately what is most important is that we make sure our acute care system is able to respond to all of our health needs. And to do that, we need to give it a bit more time. The exact amount of time, again, it will depend on how we collectively work together to bring those numbers down.”
There are 65 active COVID-19 cases currently within the M.D. of Bonnyville listed on the province’s virus data map.