The NHL has a COVID-19 problem on its hands, and the league is doing what it can to avoid a catasrophe.
Several changes have been made to the NHL’s health and safety protocols in wake of the spike in COVID-19 cases. Here’s a look at what’s changing.
Removing shields behind benches
The league has requested the removal of the typical shielding behind benches to improve airflow in the crowded space. The seats behind the bench may not be occupied.
Air filtration and cleaning also will be a main priority moving forward this season. The NHL is considering “adopting a requirement for deploying portable air cleaners” with HEPA behind bench areas “to improve indoor air quality and mitigate airborne viral transmission.”
Time limits at arenas
The NHL does not want anyone lingering after games at the moment.
Players and staff have been advised to exit any given arena no more than one hour and 45 minutes after a game ends. The only exceptions are “necessary treatment” and preparation for the day’s game.
This issue goes beyond ice-level issues.
Teams have been asked to utilize any additional locker room space for both home and visiting teams to help assure players are allotted six feet between them and the next player.
“It is important to note that, while we have seen almost 100 players enter our COVID Protocols, fewer than half have done so because of confirmed positive tests — and, among that group, many have not been symptomatic,” Bettman said, per the NHL. “Our priority has been and will continue to be to act conservatively with an abundance of caution, understanding that there are many things about the transmission of COVID-19 that are still being discovered. As a result, we won’t hesitate to take additional measures as indicated by what we are learning and as directed by our medical advisers.”
Plans for this must be submitted no later than Feb. 10.