New rules for Ottawa's outdoor skating rinks this winter include a maximum 25 people and no games of shinny or shooting pucks on all outdoor rinks.

Medical officer of health Dr. Vera Etches has issued a class order under the Health Protection and Promotion Act to limit large crowds from gathering at popular recreation areas during the COVID-19 pandemic. The new rules for outdoor skating rinks and entry points at other outdoor recreational amenities takes effect on Friday.

The city of Ottawa says it will implement a reservation system to book free 45-minute skating times at the four outdoor refrigerated rinks.

Under the class order, the maximum capacity is 25 people for all outdoor skating rinks in the city of Ottawa. For all other outdoor recreational amenities, capacity is limited to a maximum of 25 people at the top of tobogganing hills, trail heads, and access points to the amenity.

Owners and operators of the outdoor recreational amenity must post capacity limit signage and two metre physical distancing signage, along with signs reminding people to wear masks at all times.

Rink ambassadors will make sure people are aware of the 25-person limit at all outdoor rinks.

The class order says, "While the risk of transmission of COVID-19, on average, is greater in indoor spaces compared to outdoors, the risk of transmission is elevated in outdoor spaces when there is crowding, close contact, prolonged exposure and forceful exhalation."

The order takes effect on Friday, Jan. 8 at 5 a.m.

The class order from Dr. Etches benches hockey players hoping to play on outdoor rinks in the city this winter.

"Do not practice or play team sports or any other sports or games that are likely to result in an individual coming within two metres of each other," it says.

Ottawa Bylaw says officers will enforce the class order on a "proactive basis and in response to complaints" from the public.

Last week, the City of Ottawa announced masks are mandatory around all outdoor rinks, and recommended skaters wear them while on the ice.

RESERVATION SYSTEM

The city of Ottawa says it will implement an online reservation system to book free 45-minute skating times at Ottawa's four outdoor refrigerated rinks.

Starting this Saturday, January 9, reservations will be required to skate at the following peak times:

  • City Hall Rink of Dreams, 9 am – 11 pm daily
  • Jim Tubman Chevrolet Rink of Dreams, 10 am – 10 pm weekends, 8 am – 10 pm weekdays
  • Lansdowne Park Skating Court, 9 am – 10 pm weekends, 5 pm – 10 pm weekdays *hours subject to change
  • Ben Franklin Place Skating Rink, 9 am – 10 pm weekends, 5 pm – 10 pm weekdays *hours subject to change

You can book a time at www.ottawa.ca/skating

The reservation system will open on Jan. 8 at 6 p.m. for residents to book skating times for Saturday and Sunday. Moving forward, reservations can be made up to two days in advance.

NO HOCKEY GAMES ON OUTDOOR RINKS

The city says only skating is allowed on all outdoor rinks this winter with no sticks, balls or other sports equipment permitted on the ice.

In a statement to CTV News Ottawa, Ottawa Bylaw Director Roger Chapman said hockey at recreation amenities is currently prohibited based on current provincial regulations.

"Additionally, street hockey games would be considered outdoor social gatherings, meaning no more than 10 people may participate and physical distancing of two metres must be adhered to at all times."

SLEDDING HILLS AND COMMUNITY RINKS

The 25-person capacity limit also applies to sledding hills and community outdoor rinks.

"Think about others and limit your time during busy periods so everyone can get a chance to skate or sled," said the city in a media release on Thursday.

"Residents are encouraged to come back at another time if the rink or hill is at capacity. On-site signage will be posted and rink ambassadors will help to make people aware of the 25-person limit."

ENFORCEMENT OF 25-PERSON LIMIT

The city says a dedicated team from Ottawa Bylaw and Regulatory Services will proactively monitor all sledding hills and community rinks.

Anyone failing to comply with the order faces a fine of $880 under Ontario's COVID-19 regulations.