Eastern Ontario hockey leagues to play on — for now

Hockey Eastern Ontario, the governing body that regulates amateur hockey across the region, says it will not suspend operations even as COVID-19 infection rates remain high.

Regulating body says it won't follow Toronto's lead

Hockey Eastern Ontario has established 'return to play' guidelines which it believes can limit the transmission of COVID-19. (Shutterstock)

It's not exactly hockey as usual, but amateur leagues will continue in the Ottawa region — at least for now.

The governing body that regulates amateur hockey across eastern Ontario says it will allow its modified programs to continue, in spite of an increase in COVID-19 cases across the province.

Monday's announcement from Hockey Eastern Ontario (HEO) comes two days after the Greater Toronto Hockey League (GTHL) said it would postpone all sanctioned activities until January 2021 due to rapidly rising COVID-19 infection rates in the GTA.

In its release, HEO called the decision from the GTHL "a local one based on the circumstances present in their area of operations." 

"HEO has no plans at this time to postpone operations," said president Gary Hopkins in the statement.

On Saturday, October 3, the Greater Toronto Hockey League pulled the plug on sanctioned hockey activities, until January 2021, because of an increase in COVID-19 cases across the GTA. (Erin Riley/GTHL)

Protocols in place

Many discussions took place in rinks over the weekend as to whether HEO would the GTHL's lead.

Instead, HEO will continue with its "return to hockey" plan, Hopkins said, one that lays out a series of COVID-19 protocols designed to prevent transmission.

Those protocols include screening players for symptoms, limiting player cohorts, and maintaining physical distance while on the ice.

HEO said it remains in close contact with the four public health units within its region, as well as its own chief medical officer, and will "continue to monitor the COVID-19 situation very closely."

"We understand that the recent increase in cases is concerning, and we may need to adjust our approach if the situation continues to worsen," said Hopkins.

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