Sask. Hockey Association return to play guidelines approved by province
REGINA -- The Saskatchewan Hockey Association’s Return to Hockey Safety Guidelines have received provincial approval, with exhibition play set to resume Oct. 17.
Saskatchewan’s Chief Medical Health Officer Dr. Saqib Shahab spoke about the return plan on Thursday.
“No activity is risk free, these guidelines do help to maintain case numbers low,” Shahab said. “We all know these best practices and we really need to focus on maintaining those as we go into the fall.”
“To ensure a successful 2020-21 hockey season – from beginning to end – it is the responsibility of every player, coach, team official and spectator to ensure they are following the public health measures and doing their best to control the spread of COVID-19,” reads the SHA Return to Hockey plan.
The full 63 page plan features a phased approach to the sport’s return, listing phase one as “Evaluation and Training”, the current phase.
Phase two will allow for exhibition games within a mini league starting Oct. 17.
Phase three begins league play within mini leagues with a tentative start date of Nov. 1.
Phases two and three do not apply to age groups under 11, as they’re covered by a set of age-specific guidelines.
The fourth phase would see the mini-leagues expand on a tentative date of January 18, 2021.
The fifth and final phase does not currently have a possible start date but covers playoffs and provincial competition.
Moving into a new phase must come with approval from the Chief Medical Health Officer after considerations about the state of the pandemic in Saskatchewan at each point are made.
Only 30 people will be allowed on the ice during any one session including coaches and officials under the plan’s restrictions.
Any one mini league is capped at 50 players or four teams.
“Participants may only be a part of one mini-league within a single sports organization at any given time and are encouraged to limit their personal bubbles they are involved with in the interests of their own health, the health of their families and friends and the health of their communities,” the plan states.
Coaches and officials who can maintain physical distancing and wear non-medical masks do not count towards the capacity. Those who cannot do so consistently will count toward the mini league numbers and are also required to wear masks.
Travel permits, exhibition game and tournament sanctions will not be granted until the province and Saskatchewan Health Authority give the green light, the hockey association said.
FACE COVERING POLICY
All members of minor hockey will be under a face covering policy including players and spectators until it’s deemed safe to remove the policy.
It is the intentions of [the Saskatchewan Hockey Association] to have a consistent environment so when players, officials, coaches and spectators are headed to a rink, they will know what to expect,” the plan states.
The full set of guidelines and rules can be viewed on the Saskatchewan Hockey Association’s website.