Michigan ice arenas appealing to Gov. Whitmer to reopen
Like many small business Michigan ice arenas have been hard hit by the shutdown due to the Covid-19 Pandemic.
With the exception of a few in the Upper Peninsula, most remain closed because of their classification as a fitness facility per Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s executive order.
The people who run and own the arenas that are still closed want them reclassified to differentiate ice arenas from gyms and bowling alleys, so that they can reopen. The group composed and sent a letter to Gov. Whitmer with that request.
HockeyWeekly.com has acquired a copy of the letter.
“As the days lead to months, the rinks are on the brink of not being able to open back up and the skaters are losing precious time to exercise, develop, discipline, released their anxiety, be social and enjoy their home away from home,” it states. “While many sports have begun practicing, ice hockey and ice skating remain at a standstill. Many states have opened their ice rinks back up and reports indicate there have been no outbreaks of Covid-19 at their rinks. The NHL has begun the playoffs, following strict guidelines, and no cases of Covid-19 has happened playing hockey.”
Diane Wilson, the general manager of the Ann Arbor Ice Cube, talked to www.clickondetroit.com.
“If you know hockey, and you know figure skating, you would know there are certainly ways to do this safely,” she said.
The 130,000 square foot Ann Arbor Ice Cube has three rinks and is home to the Eastern Michigan University Men’s hockey team, four Ann Arbor high schools along with figure skating and synchronized skating clubs and organizations.
“We have everything in place (to open) and the community has just been incredible,” Wilson said. “Everybody is anxious to get back on the ice, from the figure skaters to the hockey players to Youth hockey. It’s been endless.”
Ice Cube Athletes have been doing strength training on dry land and have even traveled to Ohio to get on the ice. But with school about to begin, that ice time soon will not be available.
“When can Michigan ice rinks open again and prove they can also follow similar screening and cleaning protocols and keep their skaters safe and healthy? I am requesting you consider opening Michigan ice rinks now!” the letter continues. “Figure skating is an easy sport to social distance as it is largely an individual sport.
“When it comes to hockey, all players wear face cages or shields, mouth guards and gloves. They wear pads on every inch of their body. There is almost no skin-to-skin contact. They do not share equipment and there is no sharing or touching of a ball. Players only touch their own stick to push a common puck around. Checking doesn’t even exist until age 13 or 14, and most adult leagues don’t allow checking. So where is the threat?”
In the case of the Ice Cube, its sheer size could allow for ample social distancing.
Wilson said that even before the pandemic, the Ann Arbor Ice Cube was never at capacity because of its size and that several skaters could be on the ice without problems. If the Cube’s three ice rinks could reopen, she already has procedures in place for temperature checks, limited capacity and contact tracing.
They’ve been in contact with Michigan Sen. Jeff Irwin (D), who is working with Sen. Michael D. MacDonald (R) on a bi-partisan presentation discussing the issue. Community members have also been signing a letter written by Sen. MacDonald petitioning Gov. Whitmer for reclassification.