Media banned from Jets locker room amid coronavirus fears
The move came ahead of pro-sports leagues announcing ban on non-essential personnel
Post-game scrums in the Winnipeg Jets locker room are on hiatus to avoid spreading the novel coronavirus.
But Winnipeg-based hockey reporters are not the only ones being shut out.
In a joint statement Monday night, the NBA, NHL, Major League Baseball and Major League Soccer announced they are temporarily limiting access to locker rooms and clubhouses to all non-essential personnel.
The leagues made the call after "consultation with infectious disease and public health experts," according to the online statement.
"Given the issues that can be associated with close contact in pre- and post-game settings, all team locker rooms and clubhouses will be open only to players and essential employees of teams and team facilities until further notice."
The broad ban goes into effect on Tuesday.
"We will continue to closely monitor this situation and take any further steps necessary to maintain a safe and welcoming environment," reads the joint statement.
Jets make move ahead of league
Scott Brown, Winnipeg Jets senior director of hockey communications, says the team's move initially came after the NHL announced last weekend that media may be banned from locker rooms across the league.
"A lot teams have gotten wind of it and they're being proactive in their steps," he said, before the leagues' announcement Monday night. "We're trying to do this in order to ensure the safety of the players going forward, as we learn more about the situation."
For now, a couple of Jets players will be selected to speak with media at the podium.
Jets centre Adam Lowry told reporters Monday that if this keeps "everyone a little safer, a little healthier" then it's worth it.
"The biggest thing is you just want to do everything to make sure as many people can stay healthy as possible," said Lowry.
Aside from media being banned from the locker room, Brown said the organization has always told its players to wash their hands and notify training staff when they're not feeling well.
Various sports events around the world, including the IIHF Women's World Championships in Halifax, have been cancelled, and sports leagues like the NHL are contemplating playing games without fans in attendance amid COVID-19 fears.
There are no reported cases of COVID-19 in Manitoba, but there are 77 confirmed cases in other parts of Canada, and the first death in Canada happened in B.C. on Monday.
But COVID-19 has affected places like Italy, Iran, China and parts of the United States much more severely.
"Obviously it's a general concern for the public," Jets defenceman Dylan DeMelo told reporters Monday. "At the end of the day, obviously professional sports has to come second to those health needs, and we have to look out for the public.
"For how fast it's spreading and how many areas it's hitting, as players the only thing you can really do is control your own well-being and wash your hands and doing all the right things."
DeMelo added that the organization is great with regards to practicing good hygiene and making hygiene products accessible.