Saskatoon Minor Hockey Association asks city for mask exemption

Hockey players hit the ice.

Saskatoon Minor Hockey Association has asked city hall for an exemption to its mask mandate for all users of city-run buildings, including hockey arenas.

According to the city’s general manager of community services Lynne Lacroix, masks are required for all activities other than when participating in swimming pools.

“Mask-wearing is indeed required in all public spaces including activity spaces such as arenas, weight rooms, and running tracks,” Lacroix said Monday during the city’s planning, development and community services meeting.

Kelly Boes, executive director of Saskatoon Minor Hockey asked for an exemption citing challenges and potential for injury if hockey players are forced to wear masks while practicing and playing on the ice.

“We’re in uncharted territory here, forcing children to mask while playing in real hockey games,” Boes told the committee.

“I see potential concerns including blindspots created by a mask especially when looking down at your feet or in the crease area. An extra second looking for a puck while trying to make a play will make players much more vulnerable and not aware of another player coming.”

Mayor Charlie Clark told the committee he would like to hear from the provincial government and the public health team about how and where to mandate masks to curb the spread of COVID-19 in Saskatoon.

Clark noted that with more than 1,000 active cases of COVID-19 in Saskatoon, the city has the highest concentration per capita of active cases.

“We’ll do our best but I still think a provincial framework would be an easy way for all of these sports agencies to ensure they are safe and can continue,” Clark said.

Boes’ request for an exemption for players to be maskless while practicing and playing on the ice has been referred to city administration for future reporting.

Boes notes how the cities of Prince Albert and Regina do not have mask mandates for minor hockey teams when playing on the ice.