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MANCHESTER — After a brief closure Riley Rink is back open and offering its learn to skate and stick & puck programs to the community.

The rink was forced to close Saturday after Vermont Governor Phil Scott announced on Friday the suspension of all recreational sports programs throughout the state.

Riley Rink opened its doors for the season on Oct. 25. The rink had been closed due to the pandemic since March 15.

Marek Kovac serves as the president of the board of directors at Northshire Civic Center, which operates Riley Rink and Hunter Park. Kovac said the board immediately put together a plan to

“We emailed the Department of Health and basically asked if the state would reconsider their orders, specifically to Riley Rink,” Kovac said. “We have several programs that we are able to follow the guidelines from the ACCD (Agency of Commerce and Community Development).”

Kovac emailed Julie Moore at the Vermont Department of Health. Kovac received an email from the Department of Health on Sunday, allowing the Rink to reopen.

“She said that since we’re going to be offering private lessons, and if we can continue to provide the users of the rink the ability to follow the guidelines, we can stay open,” Kovac said.

Those guidelines include contact tracing, a COVID-19 questionnaire, a temperature check and lots of signage throughout the rink directing visitors how to maneuver through the rink safely.

Riley Rink is also making adjustments to the ice to ensure safety.

“The rink is going to be physically divided into two sections so there is a physical barrier,” Kovac said.

Kovac said he brought his two children to Riley Rink on Sunday for an hour long private skating session. With a family on the other side of the ice, the two groups never crossed paths.

“We had three other people on the other sheet, and we never met during our one hour skating session,” Kovac said. “It worked out just fine, and that’s what we need to make sure, that we’re going to be able to maintain the six feet distance.”

Riley Rink and its private programs will be operating under section 8.1 of the Be Smart, Stay Safe Order which includes “close contact businesses” such as Gyms, fitness centers, spas, nail Salons, etc.

Learn to skate, which pairs newcomers to ice skating with a certified trainer, is currently being offered Wednesdays, Thursdays and Sundays at Riley Rink.

The stick & puck program allows “players of all ages/skill levels the chance to practice their skills without the pressure of competition” according to Rileyrink.com.

The rink is also renting out the ice for private sessions. Each hour-long private session costs $99. In years past, these sessions cost $275.

Recreational ice hockey is currently not allowed in Vermont.

Riley Rink is the home to Burr and Burton. Winter high school sports are allowed to begin practicing Nov. 30. Kovac said they are working with BBA to figure out a schedule.

Kovac said that the rink almost never opened.

“We were contemplating not opening this season,” Kovac said.

They ultimately decided to open their doors and the board of directors at Northshire Civic Center are happy to be back in business.

“We are grateful to our Riley Rink family for taking this journey with us. We are strengthened by the support of this amazing community. See you on the ice, but no closer than 6 feet,” a post from Rileyrink.com reads.

To sign up for either the learn to skate or stick & puck program, visit Rileyrink.com.


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