Cobourg Entertainment in Covid-19 era

There has of course been a lot of talk about the Beach and Restaurants but it’s not only commercial life that has been affected but also entertainment and social activities.  The Cobourg Community Centre and other Arenas are closed so there is no Hockey or LaCrosse or even Curling.  You can golf if you follow the rules and you can now play tennis but contact sports like Rugby are not allowed.  The Loft and Rainbow theatre have been closed for months and there have been no Concerts at Victoria Hall or Port Hope’s Capitol.  Outdoor events like the Waterfront Festival, the Highland Games and Rib Fest have all been cancelled.  But let me look at each Sector in more detail and when they might re-open – per Provincial guidelines.

The general rule is that if you cannot maintain social distancing, then that activity is banned – at least for now. Let’s look at Outdoor events, Theatres and Venues, Sports, and Clubs and what the Province’s plan says about them.

The Province is dividing re-opening into Regions defined by the Health Unit and also by Stages.  Our region is currently in Stage 2 but most re-opening of Entertainment will have to wait until Stage 3.

In the listing below, I have attempted to illustrate just how big a problem we face and to what degree the Province has (so far) spelled out a plan.  In most cases, the Town is simply following what the Province has decreed.

Outdoor Events

  • Highland Games, Waterfront Festival, Canada Day Celebration, Sandcastle Festival, Poutine Festival, DBIA Downtown events (e.g. Sidewalk sales, Food and Music Festival), Summer Music in the Park, Movies on the Beach – all cancelled.
  • These are all in the category of “large public gatherings” so are not specifically mentioned in the Province’s re-opening Framework – not even in Stage 3 which says that they will “continue to be restricted for the foreseeable future.”  These are mostly annual events and hopefully they will be allowed in 2021.

Theatres and Venues

  • This category includes the Cobourg Community Centre, the Concert Hall at Victoria Hall, Rainbow Theatre, Cobourg Loft, Firehall Theatre, Best Western Dinner Theatre, Trinity Church, Lions Community Centre, Library Rotary room, Venture 13 Lecture Hall, Legion Hall and the Columbus Community Centre.
    Rainbow Cinema - waiting to start
    Rainbow Cinema – waiting to start
  • Again these are “large public gatherings”, and worse, they are indoors and social distancing is difficult. The original “Provincial Framework” said: “Large public gatherings such as concerts and sporting events will continue to be restricted for the foreseeable future.” However, they are now listed to be allowed in Stage 3 (see link below) but with restrictions such as were mandated for Churches.  The specific Government statement on this is: “Allowing performing arts shows and cinemas with reduced capacity and other restrictions, such as assigned seating”.  Try to imagine how to social distance cinema seating – see photo.  This may not be enough to make it worthwhile for these venues to open although the CCC is a separate case.

Sports

  • Apart from spectator sports at the CCC, there are a large number of sports organizations in Cobourg who organize sports for their members. 
  • I count 24 clubs currently not organizing activities (except maybe virtually).  These clubs normally offer members activities in Hockey, Curling, Cycling, Dragon Boat and Canoe, Lawn Bowling, Softball, Rugby, Badminton, Soccer, Table Tennis, Martial Arts, Tennis, Volleyball, Lacrosse, Hiking, Gymnastics.  Who knows when these will be allowed to function normally? Hopefully in Stage 3 when it comes – July?.
  • The Province now has this to say about Stage 3: “Opening all indoor and outdoor recreational facilities, including playgrounds and play structures and associated amenities like clubhouses, showers and change rooms with restrictions and public health measures in place.”
  • For some sports like golf and tennis, rules can be established to ensure social distancing so would be (and are) allowed – even in Stage 2.

Clubs (other than for sports)

  • Clubs by their very nature are intended to provide social gatherings.  Most involve groups of more than the currently allowed 10.  Including Sports clubs and Churches, I counted 116 clubs in Cobourg (My list here)  Currently, most of these are inactive and the Province does not indicate when they can go back to normal.
  • From my own experience, members don’t want to get together again until they can be assured it’s safe to do so.  There’s currently no indication of when that might be.  I would suggest that it won’t be really safe until everyone has been vaccinated and until then it will be a matter of what risk individuals are prepared to take.

Note:  I’m sure I’ve left out some individual organizations but the point is made even if lists are incomplete.

Summary

The Province is opening up stores and allowing more business activity and social interaction as outlined in Stage 2 of their plan.  But even in Stage 3, there is no indication that Entertainment activities will return to normal.  With strict conditions, yes, but not normal.  No-one has a prediction for when that will be.  And will the conditions effectively prohibit any resumption?

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