The changes will allow players to socially congregate outside of team facilities, eat and drink outside at restaurants, and spend time in each other’s hotel rooms without having been allowed to do so during the regular season.
Fully vaccinated players will also be exempt from quarantine after being exposed to an infected person or when traveling for business purposes, and will no longer be required to report to team facilities on public holidays to receive a PCR test. . They can also resume their movements without being masked with a teammate and will not be subject to time limits for arrival in the pre-match arena.
The amended protocols, made in consultation with the NHL Players Association, are similar to those governing NBA and MLB players. They are expected to significantly improve the quality of life of eligible people. Last month, Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Robin Lehner made a passionate appeal about the need for the NHL to relax the rules for those who had been vaccinated.
“These are human lives and people struggle with these things a lot in society, and we are humans like everyone else,” Lehner said.
To be considered fully vaccinated, a player must wait two weeks after receiving their final dose of an approved COVID-19 vaccine. Teams with a group of travelers who are at least 85% fully vaccinated will be granted even more flexible protocols, including more lenient masking and social distancing rules and improved travel conditions.
The changes will initially only affect teams based in the United States, as they had better access to vaccinations. Some eligible players from Canadian teams have started receiving doses of the vaccine, sources say, but none of the teams are able to qualify as fully vaccinated.
Clubs with this designation are free to hold meetings and social gatherings where fully vaccinated players are not required to wear face masks. They can also resume serving food on team flights and offer buffet meals after games and practices where fully vaccinated players are not required to wear a mask or social distancing.
They can even organize team meals inside restaurants for fully vaccinated players, as long as they are seated in a separate section away from other patrons and the servers are masked.
Fully vaccinated players will be allowed to use saunas and steam rooms at team facilities, park their cars and play golf in groups – provided they do not enter the clubhouse or other areas. indoor facilities.
Modified COVID-19 protocols are likely to be completely withdrawn for a variety of reasons, including the case of a team outbreak.
They can also be changed as part of a possible deal with the Canadian government that would allow cross-border travel during the third and fourth rounds of the playoffs.