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NHL cohort quarantine plan approved by feds, removing an obstacle for hub cities

Toronto Maple Leafs' Justin Holl (3) and Edmonton Oilers' Sam Gagner (89) battle for the puck during second period NHL action in Edmonton, Alta., on Saturday December 14, 2019.
Toronto Maple Leafs' Justin Holl (3) and Edmonton Oilers' Sam Gagner (89) battle for the puck during second period NHL action in Edmonton, Alta., on Saturday December 14, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson

The federal government has approved the NHL’s proposal of a cohort quarantine approach for players entering Canada, Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland said Friday.

The cohort quarantine, which keeps players separate from the general public, would allow the NHL to bypass the traditional 14-day quarantine for anyone entering Canada.

READ MORE: Federal government poised to grant permission for NHL hub city: source

That removes a potential hurdle to the candidacy of Toronto, Edmonton and Vancouver as “hub” cities if the league is able to return to play later this summer.

Freeland said the cohort quarantine would involve regular screening. It would be crucial that the directives of medical officers are closely followed, she added.

When asked what would happen if a player or staff member tests positive, Canada’s chief public health officer said instructions from the specific local health authority must be followed.

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“That’s the primary approach. If there was a positive test identification, that is linked to the local public health response,” Dr. Theresa Tam said.

Click to play video '‘Canada is open’ to a Canadian city being a NHL hub: Trudeau' ‘Canada is open’ to a Canadian city being a NHL hub: Trudeau
‘Canada is open’ to a Canadian city being a NHL hub: Trudeau

“I think that’s the critical aspect of it. Through the protocol which is continuously reviewed, the idea is through regular testing to reduce the actual impact of the number of people that would have to be removed from the game itself. I think ultimately the decision has to be based on the public health assessment at the time.”

Dr. Eileen de Villa, Toronto’s medical officer of health, said she was satisfied with the NHL’s plan.

“To our minds as long as public health considerations are suitably addressed, which is what we’ve seen premised on the documents we’ve had to look at, we look forward to seeing how the decision is made and look forward to being able to welcome people safely in our city,” she said.

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READ MORE: NHL players not expected to wear full face shields if games resume

The three Canadian cities, along with Chicago, Columbus, Dallas, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Pittsburgh, and Minneapolis/St. Paul, are in the running to be hub cities.

The NHL plans to start training camps for the 24 remaining teams on July 10 and hopes to resume play later in the summer.