Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston is reporting that the league will be relaxing the COVID-19 protocols for fully-vaccinated playoff teams, according to a memo circulated on Saturday morning.
According to the league memo, the changes will allow players to gather socially outside of team facilities, eat and drink outdoors at restaurants and spend time in each other’s hotel rooms after not being permitted to do so during the regular season.
The NHL considers a person “fully vaccinated” once two weeks have passed since receiving the final dose of an approved COVID-19 vaccine.
In addition, face coverings and social distancing will no longer be required for team meetings and social gatherings, and players won’t have to come in off days to receive PCR testing.
The memo states that the changes will only impact U.S.-based teams initially because 85 per cent of a team’s travelling party has to be two weeks beyond the second vaccination in order to qualify. Players on Canadian teams have started to receive their first vaccine doses, according to sources, but none of the teams are in a position to qualify for the amended rules.
Fully vaccinated players will be permitted to use saunas and steam rooms at team facilities, valet park their cars and play golf as a group — provided they don’t enter the clubhouse or other indoor facilities.
The changes came less than three weeks after Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Robin Lehner was critical of the league, saying “we are vaccinated and we are still trapped in a prison.”
By Jon Sorensen