Only 20 people will be allowed on the ice at a time as per the new regulations for Covid safety. (Submitted/Houston Today)

Only 20 people will be allowed on the ice at a time as per the new regulations for Covid safety. (Submitted/Houston Today)

The Claude Parish Memorial Arena in Houston open for public since Oct. 1

Currently not equipped for games or matches on ice this year

The Claude Parish Memorial Arena in Houston has now been opened up for the public, starting Oct. 1.

“At this time we are only open for ice users and not open for public skating,” said Tasha Kelly, the director of leisure services for the district adding that logistics would need to be figured out and whether having people on ice would mean additional costs for the district due to extra cleaning, more staff or not would also need to be determined before opening up ice for public skating.

This year due to Covid, Kelly and her staff have had a tough time getting things in order and ready for the season. To add to that, there was the warm weather making things difficult for the team.

“The process of putting in the ice was a little bit more difficult this year because of the unseemly warm weather; so that creates a lot of humidity inside the arena. When it is colder out, it gets easier. And the staff and I, we had extra steps to do because of Covid,” said Kelly adding that the cleaning responsibilities of the staff, in between ice uses, have increased manifolds.

Some of the new regulations include closure of all changing rooms, when the ice users come in they are invited in the lobby where there are seats for them to use and they carry on to the ice and at a time only 20 people on the ice with 20 people in the stands are allowed. All the ice users have to be registered participants and the ice users are responsible for checking those people in and keeping contact tracing records.

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“One of the most important parts right now is that — yes it is a public facility and ice users are using it, but you have to be registered or the ice user group has to know you are coming at a certain time and you can’t just pop in to the arena anymore to see what is happening. Somebody will be at the door greeting you at the times when you are registered to come in and you have to have your name on the list. It is very different this year,” she said.

Another big change this year is that the arena won’t be hosting any games or matches yet.

“The way that they are accessing ice is different. How many people they can have on the ice is different and one of the biggest things or changes right now is that we are not set up to accommodate any games so there is no minor hockey games happening right now,” said Kelly adding that these games won’t start until they do a facility review later this year and around mid-December is when the ice users would probably be able to go ahead with any matches or games.

Earlier, the leisure facility had opened up their gym and pool with time slots and according to Kelly, the appointment system has been working out very well.

“It’s going really well, social distancing is working great, they are following one-way traffic, grabbing their bins, heading out for the shower, gym, everybody is coming together to make this happen,” she said. When the leisure facility announced they were opening and won’t have locker facility available, there was a big uproar among its members so now when members come into the facility they are given a plastic bin at the front counter where they put their items and carry it out onto the pool deck with and store on the deck itself.

The leisure facility has also just opened its doors for weekends and the first weekend was a very successful opening.

Priyanka Ketkar
Multimedia journalist

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