More people will be allowed in various sections of the Hay River Community Centre under new Covid-19 occupancy restrictions approved by the GNWT.

The changes, which included the relaxation of some other restrictions, were applied for by the Town of Hay River and approval was received on June 4.

“For the most part, there were no surprises to the (occupancy limits) that we have requested,” said Stephane Millette, the recreation director with the Town of Hay River, during the June 8 online meeting of town council.

Many of the changes involved the aquatic centre.

In comments to The Hub, Millette said the maximum occupancy for the entire aquatic centre was increased from 22 to 35.

“Specifically, one of the changes that will impact programming and local swimmers is we’re allowed to increase again to our normal number of lanes, which is four, with up to three swimmers per lane,” he said.

The hot tub occupancy had been set at four, but now it’s been increased to eight people, he added. “Again, as long as people can physically distance and follow other Covid best practices, we’re allowed to have up to eight people in the hot tub.”

Another change at the aquatic centre is it is being allowed to reopen the water slide and splash park equipment under supervised operation.

“Those we were not allowed to use previously because there were concerns about it being difficult to physically distance,” said Millette.

One other change at the aquatic centre is that shower use is allowed again in the change rooms as long as they are individual shower stalls.

There are occupancy changes in other parts of the community centre.

“I think the other impact regarding the rest of the community centre is that the occupancies were increased, and that will allow for private rentals of the rental rooms and at the arena ice surface and the curling ice surface for special events,” said Millette. “I think there’ll be more room for special events that can occur because those occupancies have been increased. Generally, they’ve been at least doubled of what they were this winter.”

The arena ice surface had a maximum occupancy of 35 and it’s been increased to 40 for summer rentals.

The curling rink had a maximum occupancy of 25 and it’s been increased to 60 for summer rentals.

Millette noted that groups and organizations can also contact the GNWT if they would like to exceed the occupancy limits for special events.

“Basically, the GNWT would like those groups to apply and submit a plan for how they would ensure that their event is safe as per the GNWT’s Covid guidelines,” he said.

Other areas of the community centre, such as meeting rooms, have also seen adjustments to their occupancy limits.

Millette said the changes mean the community centre is moving towards normalcy.

“Because it affects a few of the areas and a few of the operations, I think we’re a few steps closer to normal,” said the recreation director.

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