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Canada approves NHL plan to allow hockey amid pandemic

Deputy Prime Minister of Canada Chrystia Freeland said players will need to work very closely with health officials and follow their instructions.
Deputy Prime Minister of Canada Chrystia Freeland said players will need to work very closely with health officials and follow their instructions.Marco Ugarte/Associated Press

TORONTO — Canada has approved the National Hockey League’s plan to play games there during the coronavirus pandemic, Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland said Friday.

The plan required an exemption, as the US-Canada border is currently closed to all nonessential travel until at least July 21 and those who enter Canada must self-isolate for 14 days. The league plans to have training camps open in July and play games without spectators in two “hub cities” in late July or August.

Freeland said Canada’s top public health officer as well as the top health officers of Alberta, British Columbia, Ontario, and Toronto worked closely with the NHL to approve the plan.

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Freeland said it will be very important for the players to continue to work very closely with health officials and follow their instructions.

Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer, said robust protocols such as group quarantining and testing will be in place.

Ten locations, including three Canadian cities, are in the running to serve as the “hub” cities that will host 24 playoff teams for initial rounds, Eastern and Western Conference finals, and the Stanley Cup Final. Players are expected to be quarantined away from the general public in those cities.