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Tensions are rising between the government and parents of some Nova Scotia hockey players.
Following last week's announcement that competition can resume around the province, some parents expressed anger they were not allowed inside the facilities to watch the games. Since then, Halifax Regional Municipality officials reminded parents they are also not allowed to film or livestream inside municipal arenas, further raising the temperature in the dispute.
"It’s fine," Scott MacPhee posted on Twitter. "We’ll just drop the kids at the rink and head to the bar and sit around non-socially distanced drinking because according to our government policy that is safer than socially distanced masked parents sitting in a rink or at home watching on their phones."
"Live streaming has been going on for years!! And now, during this already difficult time, you decide to shut it down. #letusintherinks," tweeted Suzanne Chipp.
The logic described in the HRM announcement was that livestreaming violates longstanding privacy policies but the statement also described an ongoing process to consider modifying the restrictions.
"Due to public health restrictions that prohibit spectators in facilities, including arenas, and recent changes permitting games, the municipality has received intense interest to record and livestream in our arenas, especially among hockey groups.
"Recording/livestreaming of participants has not been permitted in municipal facilities including arenas. This practice has been in place for many years in order to protect the privacy of participants.
"The municipality appreciates the interest and desire to be able to livestream games in light of the current circumstances. The municipality, Hockey Nova Scotia and other partners are currently working on possible approaches to allow livestreaming in a way that still meets privacy requirements. It is important to note that safety of participants and visitors remains our number one priority. Privacy considerations will be paramount during these discussions. Updates on this matter will be provided once discussions with our partners are completed."
When asked about the issue during Tuesday's provincial government COVID-19 news conference, Nova Scotia Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Robert Strang encouraged everyone to embrace what is allowed here instead of focusing on what isn't.
"It wasn't that long ago kids in Halifax weren't playing hockey at all and now they can play hockey so I ask the parents to be patient," Strang said. "Before I came here (to the news conference), I got an email from Soccer Nova Scotia and they were on a national call and they said the emotion that was expressed on that call (was intense) because in virtually every other province they don't know what they're going to do. They can't even play soccer.
"Our focus first and foremost is to get kids playing. When it's safe, we'll get parents back into the stands but we need to be slow and careful about this. I have to say what I said last week: focus on what you can do in Nova Scotia compared to elsewhere and not what you can't yet do, please."
Premier Stephen McNeil echoed those sentiments while addressing the current COVID-19 landscape in Nova Scotia in more general terms, reminding everyone the much more contagious UK variant was detected here just a few days ago.
"With the variant already making its way into this province, thankfully we believe we've controlled it but it's not something that we can ignore," McNeil said. "It arrived without any warning and COVID is bad enough. But the variant is far more aggressive, far more difficult to predict and with the uncertainty around supply of any vaccine, we have to be extra cautious so we will continue to keep things the way they are in this province.
"We're open for business, as Dr. Strang mentioned, with restrictions but we're not wide open for gatherings. I hope all of you can understand. I know you're making sacrifices and I know it's hard but we are putting your safety first. Thank you for your patience."