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Debating the return of hockey nets to rinks and other stupid COVID rules

Debating the return of hockey nets to rinks and other stupid COVID rules

NORTHERN, ONTARIO   ~~~~~~  February 11, 2021  (LSN)  According to an article published in tbnewswatch.com hockey nets are going to be returning to city rinks--with enforcement.  Local Hockey Nets to Return 

So, it would appear Thunder Bay City Council spent, not just one, but two sessions debating about whether or not to return hockey nets to outdoor city rinks during the COVID lockdown!?

So, it would appear Thunder Bay City Council spent, not just one, but two sessions debating about whether or not to return hockey nets to outdoor city rinks during the COVID lockdown!?

Businesses are failing, people are losing jobs and livelihoods, children are pulled in and out of schools like yo yos, COVID is still killing the eldery in retirement homes at alarming rates, and a serious COVID outbreak at the District Jail that may have resulted in community spread due to poor management of it, and city councillors are arguing about hockey nets on city rinks?  Apparently some want to return them, while others think they should remain banished. Those who support the return say it will allow skaters to practice goal shooting on the nets. The opposers think the net’s return may cause skaters to think that they can now play team sports, like shinny hockey, which are currently “verboten”. They also worry that the Province might view Thunder Bay as bending lockdown “rules” and issue the city a fine. In the end the decision to return the nets to the rinks won out by a vote of 8 to 5. They would be returned “with enforcement” to ensure no actual games of sport suddenly broke out on the rinks with the re-appearance. http://www.netnewsledger.com/2021/02/09/thunder-bay-to-return-hockey-nets-to-outdoor-rinks/

The debate about hockey nets by Thunder Bay City Council enters the COVID theatre of the absurd while demonstrating the inane and ridiculous nature of some COVID rules that are far more arbitrary, or politically motivated than science-based. As for the hockey net debates it should be noted that the risk of contracting COVID outdoors is virtually nil, (that’s science) so the whole no shinny hockey proclamation is nonsense to begin with, particularly if players wear masks. The idea that that the removal of the nets was intended to discourage team sports is downright silly. I mean, what about street hockey? It’s another winter activity kids enjoy and that might involve teams. Are city enforcement squads going to cruise neighbourhoods and confiscate the nets from groups of kids playing hockey on city streets? What about backyard rinks, will the city be monitoring them too for team sports being played? Well that already happened in Whitby, Ontario where police fined a homeowner for hosting a hockey practice with 12 kids on the rink in his backyard.  https://www.durhamradionews.com/archives/131577

It’s crazy, Vaughn a city just north of Toronto, has closed all outdoor rinks, dog parks and toboggan hills. To what end? People are already suffering from cabin fever and other mental stresses and the city arbitrarily shuts down healthy recreation areas that might ease the stress and help people get outdoors and some fresh air and exercise. Ontario has even ordered the closure of all downhill ski resorts. Does that make sense? Closing access to a recreational activity where participants are already wearing gloves, masks, and goggles (the complete protective wear kit) as part of their sporting wear and equpment? 

These types of moves along with a number of other truly useless COVID rules are wearing people down and causing them to be increasingly cynical about such dictates and with good reason. In an article in Bloomberg’s Newswire in December, Harvard epidemiologist Dr. Julia Marcus said that such arbitrary health rules, which she calls “playing pandemic theatre” are a way to break the public’s trust, which is essential to keeping people engaged in public health efforts.”

The article goes on to point out other questionable rules that don’t make such sense. For example, the need for one-way lane systems in stores, managed single queues at checkouts, ceaseless cleaning of grocery counters and conveyor belts, and PIN pads, the list goes on. Harvard University Associate Professor of Exposure Assessment Science Joseph Allen is an expert on indoor spaces and the spreading of viruses. He maintains that all these time-consuming “safety” efforts result in only one thing; causing customers to remain inside the store and come in closer contact with others than they would otherwise need to. He concludes they actually impede a shopper’s ability to get in and out of the store as quickly as possible while doing little, if anything, to mitigate the spread. 

Air travel is another area where COVID rules leave many scratching their heads. Masks and social distancing are mandated inside the airport. Even the lounges at the departure gates have signage posted to ensure that people space themselves appropriately when seated in the lounges. During boarding there are markers on the floor to remind people to social-distance. Then, once on the plane, you are shoulder to shoulder with these same strangers. Now everyone must keep their masks on, but only when they are not eating or drinking something. So what was the point of all that social distancing and masking before, now that people are packed together like sardines?

Sending kids back to school seems to be another hot button issue that is driven more by emotion, politics and fear rather than science. To date, statistics and scientific studies reveal that children, for most part, are at a very low risk of contracting COVID, or having severe outcomes if they become infected with the virus. Studies also indicate that children, even if they have contracted the virus, aren’t very effective spreaders. One of the largest studies led by Brown University in the US analyzed data from schools in 47 states during the last two weeks of September 2020.  Among the more than 200,000 students and 63,000 staff the reported infection rate was 0.13 percent among students and 0.24 among staff. This large study supports what previous smaller studies have revealed. Schools are neither COVID 19 petri dishes nor are they likely sources of superspreader events. A Nordic study of COVID infection rates in schools compared the countries of Sweden, which did not close schools during the pandemic, and Finland, which did. According to the study, the data showed there was no difference in the overall incidence of COVID cases in children under the age of  twenty between the two countries. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-07-19/covid-s-spread-in-schools-is-questioned-in-latest-nordic-study

Yet, here in Ontario, kids have been out of school since Christmas under the most recent Ontario lockdown. Some are now finally back, and now another silly debate has arisen as to whether or not March break should be cancelled or allowed to go ahead.

The fact of the matter is that many of these rules, restrictions and actual lockdowns are not even based on case numbers, but projections based on “modelling.” It was just over a month ago when Premier Doug Ford dramatically told Ontarians that “when you see the modelling, you’ll fall off your chair.”  That modelling he was talking about projected the province could hit 20,000 cases per day by mid-February (where we are now). Instead, Ontario case numbers had already peaked at the time those projections were made. Since there has been an ongoing decline when this past Monday only 1,265 cases were reported. Now some may attribute this to the lockdown, but that’s still a colossal difference between projections and actual numbers. This has been the case throughout the entire pandemic. Modelling and projections that don’t even come close to reality.

At the beginning to the pandemic the World Health Organizaton (WHO) and the Centre for Disesase Control (CDC) in the US were predicting a much larger mortality rate than has actually occurred. Even in the elderly, those over the age of 75, the fatalities haven’t come close to initial overall projections. Yet, there are still many countries, that use the same modelling projections to institute rules and restrictions in the name of protecting people’s health.  When all they may be doing, as Dr. Marcus suggested in the Bloomberg Newswire article is “playing pandemic theatre” and risk breaking the public’s trust, which is essential to keeping people engaged in genuine public health efforts.” That’s understandible, when you hear your City Counsel spent two sessions to debate the return of hockey nets, that had previously been banned from city outdoor rinks to discourage the playing of shinny hockey, while still forbidding anyone to actually play any type of hockey on the rinks.

May be an image of one or more people, people standing and outdoors

May be an image of one or more people, people standing and outdoors

 

Photo by C.K. Spence
Elks Tom Thumb Eagles vs. ? at Chapples Park.
Winter of ‘68

 

By: Roxanne Halverson
Former TBT anchor and reporter
Living in Ottawa (retired RCMP Senior Emergency Management Planner

Northern Ontario
Kenora, Rainy River, Dryden, Thunder Bay, Terrace Bay Marathon, Sault Ste Marie, Sudbury, North Bay, Ontario

#LSN_TBay 

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