Back in the days of old, like a year ago when the major lockdowns of society and the economy were clamping into place due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there were questions and fears about the impact of the decisions of public health officials, and whether they were going too far, or if the restrictions were reasonable.
Fast-forward one year later, and we are still under many restrictions, but hope is being held out in the form of vaccines, which are very, very slowly rolling out across Canada.
A monkey-wrench has been thrown into the works in the form of “variants of concern”, particularly because these variants are more contagious than the original COVID-19 virus, and they are spreading.
This is the setting for a difficult situation, as residents are anxious to get vaccinated and hopefully avoid being hit by the virus hard enough to require hospitalization.
With all that said, the provincial government has acted in a hurtful and unreasonable manner when they gave thumbs-down to a plan for Weyburn to be a host for SJHL teams to form a bubble here and play some junior hockey.
The province rejected the detailed plans to make these games happen, even though every contingency had been thought of and prepared for, including the availability of rapid testing kits so, if needed, they could get results within 20 minutes of any player or staff person tested.
The province’s reasoning for this is the upswing in variant COVID cases in Saskatchewan — but this is where all logic and sense has been left behind. The centre of 90 per cent of variant cases is in Regina, not in Weyburn. The number of COVID cases has been low in Weyburn, and has remained low throughout the month of March.
None of the SJHL teams are from Regina, and none of the games would be played in Regina — and what’s more, WHL games are ongoing in Regina and have not been stopped, even with the upswing in variant cases.
This is completely unreasonable and illogical to put a stop to the detailed plans set up for Weyburn, and this will have a huge impact on the community, not just on the teams.
This would’ve been a huge boost for Weyburn, with an estimated half-a-million dollars possible, benefitting our hotels, restaurants, stores and suppliers, with seven teams set to come and play hockey in our community.
Besides the economic impact, which Weyburn badly needed after a year like the city has just gone through, there is the impact of taking away the only chance for 20-year-old hockey players to finish out their season. For some of them, this may be the end of their hockey-playing days.
This decision cannot be justified with a community-wide impact almost as bad as the severe lockdowns of one year ago, particularly when WHL games are still going on in the very city where variants are a concern.