Here is a basic list of things to keep in mind whether you curl in an arena or a dedicated facility.
Note: Every state, county, municipality, city town and village is different in its approach to the ongoing-Covid 19 crisis. These recommendations are merely provided as points of thought and discussion for clubs, however, clubs must work closely with their local governments and facility owners to develop a plan suited to their needs.
Overall cleaning. Clubs should work with their rink or facility management to create a facility cleaning regiment under the guidance of their local government. Clubs should not be shy about asking management or local government for guidance on any aspect of a cleaning plan. Clubs and facilities may wish to plan a budget for cleaning supplies and equipment not only for the coming months but for the whole of next couple of seasons. Visit the CDC’s webpage or your local or state government sites for guidance on cleaning products. If your club works with a rink, also check with their cleaning requirements and work with them in the creation of your plan.
Know your cleaning crew may spend more time at the rink following all the cleaning requirements. The time to clean may need to be scheduled between curling games. This may mean your Board might need to plan ice time accordingly.
Handwashing. It’s important to heed the guidance around hand washing. Consider the timing of handwashing you wish to recommend to curlers and ice crews. Before a game? After a game? After cleaning and putting away equipment?
Equipment: remember that you will be working with local and state guidelines. Nothing is 100 percent guaranteed, but every bit can help keep people safer.
Stones. Stones are handled a variety of times before, during and after play. Depending on a club’s rink or facility, the stones might remain on ice and do not have to be lifted out and stored. At other facilities stones are moved on and off a sheet. Touchpoints should be kept in mind when developing a plan. While all curlers touch stone handles, some curlers also like to clean their stones but flipping them over and using their hand to wipe off debris. How will clubs wish to approach this practice? Clubs may want to consult with their rink management and local governments.
Brooms. Do clubs wish to limit the number of club brooms available or do clubs want to stop the practice of loaning club brooms unless they are used for Learn to Curls or do clubs wish to establish a broom loan program where curlers use the same broom for the league or season? If brooms are loaned to different people after each game, what cleaning process will be used? Who will do it?
Stabilizers. Will these receive the same process as brooms? Will clubs tell curlers to bring their own stabilizers and not share? or Will clubs start a stabilizer rental program where a curler rents the same stabilizer for the season?
Sliders. How will the club handle this? Does a club want to assign them or have each curler wipe down the sliders at the end of a game. If so, the club will need to provide the cleaning products.
Ice Equipment. Pebbler body harnesses, scrapers, mops, shovels, mats etc. Clubs should consider if this equipment will need cleaning, how often and by who.
Hacks. Whether clubs have to lay them down at every curling event or whether they are fixed in for the season, clubs will need to have a plan.
Scoreboards. Do clubs need them? Could a player keep score on their phones instead? If not, what parts of the boards should be cleaned? How often and when? After each game?
Gates, doors, etc. Do curlers need to touch anything when going onto or coming off the ice? Are those surfaces being wiped down? How often? By who? These areas of attention should be part of a plan. Conversations with the rink or facility management are important. All parties should know who has what duties.
Tissues. Some clubs provide them. Will this continue?
Handshaking. Handshakes, the curling tradition. Many local governments will recommend against handshakes. Clubs may need to look for alternatives: long distance air high fives or an elbow air bump – or jazz hands. Ok, maybe not jazz hands. But some suitable alternative for curlers to show their well wishes will suffice. Clubs could hold a contest asking members to come up with something -winners gets the salutation named after them.
- Clubs should stress ways to do this while observing social distancing as prescribed by the local governments.
- It might be tough to police.
- Clubs may want to ask teams to stagger who on their team will stay to reduce the number of people who stay to broomstack.
Regulating people’s attire. Do curlers need to wear masks or gloves during a game etc? Talk to rink or facility management or work with the local government for their guidelines.
Curler gear. Do clubs want to ask curlers to bring only certain essentials (ie their own broom, shoes, stabilizer). Clubs might also ask each curler to come dressed to curl.
Fees. How do you charge your curlers? Maybe now is no longer a good time for in person payment or if payment is taken at events, clubs might use cards only.
Types of games
Do you reduce the number of people on the sheets? This will depend in part on local government rules.
2, 3 and 4 person teams. Having 2 sweepers should be carefully reviewed. Will having 2 sweepers still comply with any local social distancing guidelines? USCA may suggest having 4 person teams but changing the role of the 2nd sweeper. Such a team might have 1 person skip and one shoot while only one sweep and the other player keeps time. The sweeper/timer trade places back and forth.
3 person teams are another way to reduce numbers of curlers on a sheet. USCA Club & Bonspiels Rules briefly reference 3 person teams. See Rule R3c.
Both of these types of play might have situations where the vice and skip may want to share a secret moment of necessary strategizing but if social distancing is in place, that may be difficult. Possibilities may be coded language that can be called out loudly over distances or the use of hand signals much like a catcher and pitcher.
Doubles or scotch doubles may become more popular as a way to reduce people on ice even more. Here is a link to doubles rules and articles:
USCA Rules of Curling (see page 15)
Yells/calls. Some teams use hand signals in lieu of vocal calls. Clubs might wish to consider whether to encourage more teams to adopt such practices.
Financial considerations. As you can see, clubs will need to give thought to the cost of supplies and possible additional ice time needed to complete the cleaning necessary. Will clubs need to fundraise? Will clubs pass the cost on to curlers? For those in arena clubs, will the facility charge you additional fees? These are topics your club boards will need to grapple with. Clubs may lose a percentage of curlers due to their own finances, medical conditions or other reasons. A club should be prepared to consider attrition into next season’s budget and plan to weather the situation for at least two seasons.
Cleaning police: Enforcement of Rules
Curling has many rules. Cleaning is just another game rule. Most curlers follow the rules. Now and then there are curlers who won’t. What do you do? Your local government rules might give you guidance. It might sound harsh or uncomfortable to enforce. Remember: the club is charged with protecting their curlers and minimizing the Board’s (and the club’s) liability.
Lastly, USCA released an Immediate Best Practices Sheet in March 2020. MoPac has no information as to updates or additional information from USCA. Please contact USCA directly with any questions related to that document.
No one can say how long our new normal will remain. Just know that the grand ole game has to make some adjustments as we settle into this new existence.