Game time in Halifax

A look inside a socially distanced Halifax Mooseheads game

Empty seats set the scene at the Scotiabank Centre on Oct. 29 when the Moncton Wildcats faced the Halifax Mooseheads. Like the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League’s (QMJHL) other Maritime teams, only a limited number of fans are permitted inside to watch games in Halifax.
The Scotiabank Centre is currently divided into 10 zones, with a maximum of 200 people per zone, to help to keep gatherings at the game within public health guidelines. Zones are letter and colour-coded and separated by short barricades.
Every second row of seating in the Scotiabank Centre is left empty to preserve six-foot distancing rules. Two or three different-sized groups of people can share a row, again separated by at least two seats and often more.
As with any public space, hand sanitizer bottles are plentiful in the arena. Using them is required to attend the game. Staff also go up and down stairs several times a game with a cloth and spray, disinfecting handrails and other high-contact areas.
Interesting procedures were added by the QMJHL this year after each goal: The Mooseheads (red) retreated to their own end of the ice. However, the Wildcats (white) grouped together and kept quite a distance from the other team until play resumed. 
The Scotiabank Centre has changed their food and drink serving methods: Alcoholic drinks are now only available through a vendor and delivered to your seat. Vendors have always worked at games, but not as the only purchase option for beverages. A limited number of food items are still available upstairs at the rink’s canteen.
Canteen lines are usually packed with fans between game periods.  While COVID-19 restrictions are in place at the arena, one bright side for fans is the shorter lines.
Despite the swaths of open seats, the game was only 100 spectators short of a sold-out game, which counted 1,900 in attendance. 
Moncton won 4-3 in a game that needed overtime. Getting out of the arena and to the bus stop proved much quicker after the game – a new treat for fans. Due to the arena’s zone configurations, designated exit areas were set, meaning thousands of people weren’t cramming through the same exit like in the past.

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Luke Dyment

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