British Columbia

NHL hockey in Vancouver is 'dependent on our progress' on COVID-19, says B.C.'s health officer

Bringing NHL hockey to Vancouver would be a “very good thing,” according to B.C.’s provincial health officer, but there is a long way to go before teams face off at Rogers Arena.

Vancouver is shortlisted as potential hub city when NHL play resumes

In order to keep his hand-eye coordination sharp while the NHL remains on pause, Canucks netminder Jacob Markstrom is training with a tennis ball machine. (Rich Lam/Getty Images)

Bringing NHL hockey to Vancouver would be a "very good thing," according to B.C.'s provincial health officer, but there is a long way to go before teams face off at Rogers Arena.

Dr. Bonnie Henry says any final decision will be based on whether COVID-19 levels are low in B.C. when play resumes.

"The resumption of games and again, without spectators, would be dependent on our progress and dependent on my assurance that these extreme measures will continue to be put in place," Henry said at her briefing on Thursday.

Henry has reviewed a proposal to play games in Vancouver, which includes games with no spectators and teams remaining in bubbles, which means they'll have no contact with their families or the public. 

She says there will also be rigorous testing, daily health screens and there is a plan in place if a player contracts COVID-19. 

"There was the possibility, of course, and this is I think what the NHL was most concerned about, if people do test positive once they're in that bubble that could affect the entire tournament," Henry said.

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says it would be good for B.C. if Vancouver is chosen is an NHL hub city. (MIke McArthur/CBC)

Hub cities

The NHL will select two hub cities — one will host all the Western Conference games and Eastern Conference contests will be played in the other location.

Vancouver, Edmonton and Toronto are among the ten cities on the league's short list.

The NHL and NHL Players' Association announced Thursday that training camps will begin July 10 but no date has been set for when play will resume.

"Let me also be very clear, this is not for today," Henry said. "The proposal is for a potential for sometime in the future, late summer into the fall."

New safeguards

The NHL questioned whether it should steer clear of Canadian cities as potential hosts because of Canada's mandatory 14-day quarantine period for foreign travellers.

Henry and Horgan have both written to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, asking him to support an amended quarantine proposal in B.C.

"It would be maintaining essentially a work quarantine like we have, for example, with temporary foreign workers," she said.

"Or, if people are coming home and in a family environment and quarantining in their family environment."

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