The Highlands town ice rink is slated to open in November, but with the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic still dictating social distancing, there will be some noticeable changes in operations.
According to Parks and Recreation Director Lester Norris, skate times this season will be by reservation only and due to North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper’s orders, only 30 skaters will be allowed on the rink at a time.
The ice rink will open this year on Thursday, Nov. 19 and run until March 7, 2021, Norris said, a week later than the normal second week in November opening date to be open during the Highlands Food and Wine Festival, which has been canceled for this fall.
“The extra week will give us more time to get the rink ready for social distancing,” Norris said.
Another wrinkle added to this winter season’s operations besides the six feet of social distancing, masks and a limited number of skaters allowed on the ice at one time, ice skating will be done much like many of Highlands’ most popular restaurants.
Online reservations will be linked to the Park and Rec’s website and its Facebook page.
“Wearing face masks or face covering is required,” Norris said. “If you don’t wear a mask you can’t skate. Park and Recreation staff will have a supply of masks if someone doesn’t have one.”
A hand sanitation station will be located at the ice rink’s main entrance and everyone entering will be required to take a temperature check.
“Do not enter if you are exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 such as coughing, shortness of breath, fever, chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat and a loss of taste or smell,” Norris said.
Skating will be limited to one-direction skating in a counter-clocking direction.
Spectator signs will be posted along the rink’s perimeter that will maintain a social distance of six feet.
Like skaters, spectators must wear masks as well in accordance with the town’s mask mandate.
Park and Rec staff must follow the same guidelines by wearing masks and have their temperature taken.
According to Rec Desk, the online reservation app, users will be required to create a profile, which will include a phone number and email address to assist in contact tracing if an outbreak occurs. There is no charge to use the app or to skate, Norris said.
There is a 90-minute time limit to sake, which includes being fitted for skates and returning skates. A 15-minute grace period will be given on reservations in the event the individual or party is running late. If there is a no-show, their spot is given up to someone on the waiting list, unless the no-show has called to say they are running late.
Skaters can only sign up for one time slot per day.
Please sign up for only one time slot per day
People who show up without a reservation may get to skate if someone with a reservation does not show, or someone leaves early.
“They would only get the time left in the time limit block,” Norris said.
The winter schedule begins on Thursday, Nov. 19 and run through March 7, 2021. Skate times on Thursday are from 1-8 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 1-10 p.m. and on Sunday from 1-5 p.m.
During Christmas break, the rink open on Monday, Dec. 20 to Wednesday, Dec. 23, from 1-8 p.m. The ice rink will be closed Thursday and Friday, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Skating will resume on Saturday Dec. 26, 1-10 p.m. and Sunday, Dec. 27 from 1-5 p.m.
Hours during the week following Christmas, will be Monday to Wednesday, Dec. 28-30 1-8 p.m. On New Year’s Eve, Dec. 31, the ice rink will ring in the New Year with “Skate in the New Year” with open skating from 1 p.m. - 1 a.m. On Friday, Jan. 1, New Year’s Day skating will return to normal 1-10 p.m. hours.
Private parties can be scheduled on Mondays and Tuesday, days that are not open to the public from 6-8 p.m. but must be booked two weeks in advance with a limit of 30 skaters.