Sask. Hockey Association working on plan to hit the ice this season
Association says practices allowed, but no date yet for games
The Saskatchewan Hockey Association (SHA) says it is working with the province and the provincial health authority on a return to hockey plan for the upcoming season.
Kelly McClintock, general manager with the SHA, said the association has been working on the plan for months, but that it's still too early to have a date for when teams can begin playing actual games.
What the SHA and the government have agreed on is that teams can practise under what they are calling a "training" phase.
The SHA says senior and junior teams can be formed, registered and hold practices, but no games of any kind will be sanctioned.
The training phase will use a 30/50 model, where 30 people will be allowed on the ice with 20 more off the ice, bringing the total to a maximum of 50. This model does not include spectators, who will be allowed in the stands only if physical distancing is possible.
"We wanted to give them a little bit of hope that hockey still can be played," McClintock said.
Contact tracing in the rink
Each team will be expected to designate one person to be the "team expert" on the guidelines and to keep detailed notes on who is attending each session to help with contact tracing.
"Organizers must keep a record of attendees. All players, spectators, staff, and volunteers should be provided with a sign-in on arrival option, with name, phone number and/or email to facilitate contact tracing, if necessary," the SHA said.
Attendance records must be kept for at least a month and can only be used for the purposes of COVID-19 contact tracing. The SHA also asks that people don't use a communal pen.
Teams will still be allowed to bring in players from outside of their community, with no new restrictions on where they can come from.
The SHA says it has liability coverage for potential lawsuits that includes pandemics, but that may not be the case for individual arenas. Hockey Canada advises municipalities to check their policies.
British Columbia has implemented legislation preventing people from suing municipalities if they have contracted the virus. Saskatchewan has not enacted a similar law.
As for mask use, the SHA is following federal guidelines, which state "mask use is recommended for periods of time when it's not possible to consistently maintain a two-metre physical distance from others".
Tournaments and out-of province travel
The SHA is continuing to temporarily ban hockey tournaments. The association says it is working with the government and the Saskatchewan Health Authority to determine a date for tournaments.
The same goes for out-of-province travel. McClintock said SHA will be reassessing this as the situation evolves, but not to expect any changes until 2021.
McClintock said he knows people can't wait to see their local rinks reopen but that he's "been trying to preach patience."