Fife Flyers: What are the latest Covid rules for fans returning this weekend?
It’s been the longest wait imaginable - 570 days and counting since Fife Flyers’ fans last flocked to Fife Ice Arena to see a game of ice hockey.
The rhythm is pre-season is now starting to sound as players arrive, new kit and equipment is delivered, and the finishing touches put to the rink before the old art deco doors swing open once more to reveal the buzz unique to match night.
Stepping into the rink on a sunny Thursday afternoon, it felt as if nothing had changed since March 2020.
But everything has.
Behind the scenes, a huge amount of work has gone into ensuring crowds in excess of the Scottish Government’s 2000-limit for indoor gatherings can again be welcomed.
That means more than just ticking boxes on official forms.
Protocols have to be put in place - and they have to be adhered to.
So, when fans return on Saturday night, 573 days since they last drifted through the exits after the buzzer sounded, things won’t be quite the same.
The club and the rink’s guidelines are there to keep everyone safe - players, officials, volunteers and staff.
Their appeal is quite simple - follow the guidance, keep your distance, and be mindful of the people sitting around you.
The biggest change is facemasks - they must be worn while seated.
The rule applies to everyone over the age of 12 unless you are eating or drinking, or can demonstrate you are exempt.
Walkways around the rink must be kept clear - fans will not be allowed to stand there.
The only standing zones are in designated areas behind Sections A-C and G-H.
Several long-standing parts of match night have also been stopped until the guidance is reviewed.
There will be no match night mascots, puck drops, presentations, or ‘man of the match’ presentations - the latter will still be announced.
Chuck A Puck won’t take place and neither will any on ice games involving supporters.
Interaction with players will also be restricted.
They won’t mingle with fans in the bars after games, and there won’t be photos or autograph sessions.
The long-standing 50/50 draw will go ahead, with tickets being sold by facemasked sellers, and programmes will continue to be sold.
And while the popular Shirt of the Back raffles will go ahead, the winners won’t get the strip from a player - instead it can be collected after it is laundered.
While social distancing is no longer in force, the rink has appealed to fans to stay apart while queuing at the cafe and bars.
You won’t get served any quicker by standing three feet closer to the person in front of you.
The protocol also comes with some personal responsibility.
Fans who feel unwell on game day, or have developed any of the known COVID symptoms, are strongly urged to stay away.
The same message goes to anyone who has tested positive in the previous 10 days and is self isolating, or if you have been a close contact of someone who has Covid 19 and/or are awaiting the results of a negative PCR test.
And if you have travelled from a country on the red list within the previous ten days, the advice is watch the game online - not at the rink.