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Community associations in Saskatoon are being urged to take away nets at outdoor rinks to avoid groups from playing hockey.

The provincial government and public-health officials recently suspended all team sports until Dec. 17 in an effort to curb the spread of COVID-19.

In a letter to community associations dated Nov. 30, the city says it sought clarification from the province about how the restriction applied to outdoor rinks.

The city’s letter says it was told that the ban on team sports applies to both indoor and outdoor rinks.

It cites the province’s public-health order that says organized or pickup hockey games during public skating times are not allowed and asks that hockey nets be removed.

As a result, the city is strongly recommending that its community associations not leave out hockey nets that could be used while rinks are unsupervised.

“These are recommendations and guidelines to protect the community and to try to address the spread of COVID,” said Andrew Roberts, the city’s director of recreational and community development.

“We realize it’s not a normal winter and that there (are) some sacrifices being made.”

Roberts noted that the public-health order is in place for three weeks and that the city’s recommendation around outdoor hockey nets isn’t mandatory.

Even though team sports are prohibited, the province says athletes 18 and younger can still practise in groups of eight but must take precautions such as wearing masks.

The Saskatoon Minor Hockey Association says on its website it checked with the city and nets will remain in place for practices.

Health officials reported 181 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, and said 123 people were in hospital.

The Ministry of Health has said team sports were suspended for three weeks because the activities were leading to COVID-19 cases in schools and workplaces.

Recently, health officials warned that nine players and one coach on a teenage hockey team tested positive for COVID-19, and other teams were self-isolating.

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