NHL

NHL relaxes COVID-19 testing protocols for vaccinated players

The National Hockey League and its players' association announced new changes to its COVID-19 protocol, including a removal of daily tests for the fully vaccinated.

New rules will take effect after each team's final game before All-Star break

A masked Dave Tippett, head coach of the Edmonton Oilers, handles bench duties during the third period against the Montreal Canadiens in January. (Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)

The National Hockey League and its players' association announced new changes to its COVID-19 protocol, including a removal of daily tests for the fully vaccinated.

The league says the new rules will come into effect for each team immediately following that club's last game before the All-Star break.

It adds that the new regulations are in place alongside local, state, provincial and federal health laws.

The new protocols also include updated recommendations for masks, the removal of the requirement to test close contacts, and updated requirements for in-area gatherings such as family spaces and on-ice ceremonies.

The NHL says it has worked closely with the NHL Players' Association in coming up with the rules.

The NHL says the new rules are in part due to the high positivity rate of COVID-19 from Dec. 2021 to mid-Jan. 2022 and the declining rate since then.

It adds that the protocols cannot reduce all of the risk of the virus and says they may be changed in the future.

Carolina Hurricanes head coach Rod Brind'Amour previously referred to the revision as "common sense."

"The players have done all they can, done all their vaccinations — all that stuff that they can do," Brind'Amour said. "I don't know why they would be testing them, to be honest with you, if they're asymptomatic, so I agree with this decision. I think it's a good one."

The changes to the COVID-19 protocol further contain a recommendation to receive booster vaccines as they become available, steps to reduce community exposure, the removal of "enhanced measures" and reverting to the start-of-season protocol.

New York Islanders forward Matt Martin also previously pointed out that with the playoffs a little over three months away, not testing asymptomatic players is a smart move that could keep rosters from being decimated at that time.

"I think it's a step in the right direction," Martin said. "Hopefully we can continue to move forward and get back to a normal way of life."

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