Russian ice dancers Irina Lobacheva and Ilya Averbukh perform during the exhibition at the ISU Cup of Russia Grand Prix in Moscow Sunday, Nov.24, 2002. Lobacheva and Averbukh won the gold medal. (AP Photo/Ivan Sekretarev)

Myth of Adelaide ice rink becoming a morgue resurrected amid COVID-19 crisis

AAP FactCheck March 31, 2020

The Statement

As the COVID-19 pandemic claims thousands of lives around the world, social media has reignited a rumour that an Adelaide ice skating rink is set to be used as a makeshift morgue.

A March 27 Facebook post reads: “500!!!!! BODY BAGS were delivered to the ice arena in theberton (sic) #adelaide“.

There is an ice rink in Thebarton, Adelaide called IceArenA.

The post goes on to state: “It’s being turned into a make shift (sic) morgue… Please stay home n (sic) be safe”.

The Facebook post has been viewed over 16,500 times, been shared over 80 times and received over 100 comments.

 A Facebook user claims a makeshift morgue is being set up in an Adelaide ice rink. 

The Analysis

The escalating COVID-19 crisis is putting huge pressure on medical systems around the world and on morgues. Spain, for example, has faced an enormous challenge in caring for those infected by COVID-19 and accommodating the bodies of those killed by the virus. The Spanish government has been forced to turn an ice rink into a temporary morgue.

In Australia, according to a March 28 Canberra Times report, the ACT Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith said that Canberra’s only ice rink could be used as a makeshift morgue, but only in the worst case scenario.

“We don’t want to see that happen, but we are planning for the worst, and we need to do that in case it comes to that,” she reportedly said.

Similar rumours surrounding Adelaide’s only ice rink, the Thebarton IceArenA, previously called Mt Thebarton, have been circulating on Facebook and Reddit since March 27, with posts claiming the rink has received 500 or more body bags in preparation to be turned into a makeshift morgue.

But Thebarton Ice ArenA manager Tenille Henry-Comley told AAP FactCheck the claims made in the Facebook post and Reddit thread are false and that the ice rink’s chillers have been off since March 29.

“If we had any morgue being set up here, we’d be pretty silly because we have no way to keep anything cold,” Ms Henry-Comley said.

The myth that the Ice ArenA will be turned into a morgue has been doing the rounds for years, according to Ms Henry-Comley, who said people regularly ask her if the rumours are true.

“As far as we know, SA health has never had us in the state emergency plan. Clearly because if something was to happen like that there are much bigger sources of cold storage in the state,” she said.

A SA Health spokesperson confirmed that the IceArenA is not being turned into a makeshift morgue and that ice rink is not a part of the SA Health emergency management plan.

“I think it’s one of those urban legends that always crop up, but there are no plans for this,” the spokesperson said.

Ice skaters
 A post on Facebook claims an ice rink in Adelaide will be repurposed as a morgue. 

The Verdict

Based on the evidence, AAP FactCheck found the Facebook post to be false. According to an IceArenA spokesperson the Adelaide ice rink has not received 500 body bags in preparation to be turned into a makeshift morgue.

False – The claims made in the content are factually inaccurate.

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