Outdoor skating: Sharpen your understanding of COVID-safety rules


The province-wide stay-at-home measures want people to stay home as much as possible and not visit other people’s homes. But you can go out for important reasons – like doctor appointments, groceries, get medication, and skating outdoors.

Skating outdoors in your neighbourhood and being active is important to you and your family’s overall health. Here are some measures in place to help keep you and your family safe from COVID-19. The rules have changed since Ottawa’s case counts have surge, so here’s a refresher on what you need to know before skating at the outdoor rink in your community.

First, it’s important to keep at least two metres from anyone outside your household.

In addition to provincial regulations, the City’s Medical Officer of Health issued an order to limit boarded outdoor skating rink capacity to 25 people at once. Rinks are large enough to ensure the 25 skaters can maintain a two-metre distance and are not considered an organized social gathering. People who are within 15-metres of the edge of the rink must wear masks. Ottawa Public Health recommends wearing a mask on the ice too, as it gives you extra protection against COVID-19. Puddle rinks in parks are community skating pads without boards. Since they are smaller, the capacity for those rinks are 12 people.

No hockey, shinny, sticks or pucks on the ice

Provincial regulations do not allow any team or scrimmage sports activities on public rinks. To prevent a situation where a pick-up game of shinny could develop, the City has prohibited sticks, pucks or any other sports equipment on its ice surfaces.

Online reservation system for access to refrigerated rinks

The City has an online reservation system at ottawa.ca/skating that gives residents access to 45-minute skating slots at its four outdoor refrigerated rinks:

  • City Hall Rink of Dreams
  • Jim Tubman Chevrolet Rink of Dreams
  • Lansdowne Skating Rink
  • Ben Franklin Place Skating Rink

You can reserve a time two days in advance, with new timeslots opening at 6 pm each day.

Backyard rinks or skating pads

People can have their own skating rinks and ice pads on their properties. Sticks, pucks and nets are permitted on home rinks. However, you should treat access to your home rink the same as you do your home - it should only be used by the people within your household, and not your neighbours. Remember, the five-person outdoor gathering limit still applies for people outside your household and physical distancing should always be maintained.

So, stay home as much as possible. When you and your family get outside for fresh air and exercise, stay local, keep two metres from people outside your household, avoid crowded areas, and always carry a mask to put on should you run into a situation where you cannot maintain physical distancing.

Stay tuned for the next article with more ways to be active outdoors.