B.C. has given the green light for National Hockey League games to be played in the province during the upcoming 2021 season.
Premier John Horgan made the announcement in a tweet on Sunday.
Horgan said he spoke with Vancouver Canucks owner Francesco Aquilini on Saturday about the plan and noted “enhanced health measures” will be put in place.
Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said previously that health officials from the five Canadian provinces with NHL hockey teams have been consulting with league officials, but that the decision was ultimately up to the province.
The NHL has released its schedule for a shortened 56-game season for 2021 that includes division realignments to limit team travel amid the pandemic. That new plan includes an all-Canadian North Division.
After speaking with <a href=”https://twitter.com/fr_aquilini?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@fr_aquilini</a> yesterday about the NHL’s return-to-play plan, I’m pleased to confirm the enhanced health measures being put in place for the upcoming season mean games can safely be played here in BC. <br><br>Lets go <a href=”https://twitter.com/Canucks?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@Canucks</a>!
The season is set to begin Jan. 13. The Canucks’ first home game is set for Jan. 20 against the Montreal Canadiens.
On Friday, Alberta was the first province to officially say the NHL can play games in its arenas for the upcoming season.
Safety protocols include daily symptom screenings
Under the NHL’s recently announced COVID-19 protocol, every club will have a compliance officer who will be responsible for monitoring and enforcing all safety measures. That includes daily symptom screening and temperature checks for players.
Coaches will be required to wear masks during games. Players and personnel will be tested regularly, and not be allowed to leave hotel bubbles when on road trips.
The federal government said it has issued an exemption to the mandatory 14-day quarantine period for NHL players and team staff returning to Canada for training camps under “national interest grounds.”
Instead, modified quarantine procedures for players and team staff entering the country will be determined by provincial health authorities, according to league officials.
Adult team sports are currently banned in B.C. as part of COVID-19 health measures.