By Mike Renzella
The Haldimand Press
CAYUGA—With Haldimand County now in the Orange zone of the province’s colour-coded system for COVID-19 restrictions, many local residents are excited to resume activities, including local sports and recreational activities at the County’s various public facilities. However, the Cayuga arena is not listed among the facilities slated to reopen for public use as it will become the temporary site for a mass vaccination clinic.
“The Cayuga Arena will have ice removed … in order to facilitate its use as a mass vaccination clinic for COVID-19. The loss of this facility will result in the need to reallocate available ice at the remaining four ice pads in the county. Due to the shortage of ice, the initial allocation will include only minor hockey, ringette, and figure skating groups,” said Tom Flatt in a message posted to the Dunnville Minor Hockey website. “While we understand this may be disappointing news, the fact that we are reopening in Orange will allow our minor sport groups to continue on with their seasons. In addition, the remaining arenas will be open until April 30, subject to sufficient interest and the county remaining in the Orange zone or lower for Provincial restrictions.”
Haldimand County has posted a notice to address questions about the vaccination clinic. The notice mentions the upcoming demands of vaccinating Halidmand County residents in large volumes, and the need for a site that can scale up in operational capacity quickly and as needed.
“A mass vaccination clinic (MVC) is significantly more efficient than a number of smaller local clinics – we can accomplish more of what we need to in a shorter period of time,” explained the notice.
The clinic will be made up of multiple areas, including areas to store and prepare the vaccine, to screen people, to administer the vaccine, and a recovery area for staff to monitor for any adverse reactions to the dose.
As for why the rinks need to be closed currently instead of allowing the remainder of the winter sporting season to take place, the County measures their prep time in weeks, with one to two weeks allotted to removing ice, and one to two weeks to set up the clinic.
“We need to be ready for when the vaccine is made available – we could receive (literally) several days notice to activate for mass inoculations. Thus, the facility needs to be ready to go ASAP,” stated the notice.
As for the questions surrounding vaccine shortages, which would lead to the arena sitting empty for extended periods of time, the County offered the following explanation: “There is always that possibility; however, contrary to what is in the news, large amounts of vaccine could be made available at any time for priority population/persons (i.e. seniors/health care workers), of which we have thousands.”
The Cayuga arena was chosen over the County’s other sporting facilities as it was deemed to have the least amount of impact and displacement of users, who the County states will be given equal prime ice time at alternate facilities through a reallocation of time plan.
“The loss of one arena will impact each group’s current allocation, and I will need to find sufficient hours in our other arenas to accommodate those groups displaced from Cayuga,” said Flatt.
“We hope to be able to have approved schedules and permits issued in order to reopen the arenas with a target date between February 22-24,” he concluded.