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Winnipeg could become a good CFL hub: Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister

Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister said Tuesday he thinks Winnipeg would make a good hub city for a shortened CFL season through COVID-19.
Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister said Tuesday he thinks Winnipeg would make a good hub city for a shortened CFL season through COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Woods

Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister is leaving the door open for Winnipeg to be a hub city for the CFL in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic.

When asked if he’d be concerned about letting CFL players from the harder-hit United States come to Winnipeg for a shortened 2020 season, Pallister said a good health and safety plan could be developed to make it work for the city.

“I think as long as the precautionary measures and the self-isolation periods and the other recommendations of our health officer are respected and followed, then I think we’re not in an unreasonable position to offer relative safety,” Pallister said Tuesday.

Read more: Infectious disease expert likes hub plans, but says CFL and other leagues still face issues

“And in offering relative safety, if we can then advance our economy and social lives, then that’s a good thing.”

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The league hasn’t started its 2020 season, but has said a hub-city possibility is one option for a shortened campaign.

Winnipeg and Regina have been mentioned as hub-city possibilities.

The earliest an abbreviated ’20 season will begin is September, but CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie has stated a cancelled campaign also remains possible.

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Pallister thinks football with no fans in Winnipeg could provide a boost for the province.

“Yes, I do miss my sports. But I don’t think there’s a day coming very soon where we’re going to have the ability to get back in the stands and cheer on the Bombers to the next Grey Cup. I’m realistic about this,” Pallister said.

Read more: Canadian Football League submits revised financial request to federal government

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“Dr. (Brent) Roussin (Manitoba’s chief public health officer) has said it repeatedly — the day of big public gatherings isn’t here yet. But that doesn’t mean the day of a broadcast, simulcast possibility of watching football should never come,” Pallister said.

“So I think we can draw the distinction here and realize we must maintain safety on the one hand, but we can’t let our fears cause us to remove every aspect of our lives.”

When asked if his government has talked to the CFL, Pallister was vague.

“I’ll say we’ll have more to say on that in due course when there’s something to say,” he said.

Modified CFL season could be blessing in disguise for Winnipeg Blue Bombers
Modified CFL season could be blessing in disguise for Winnipeg Blue Bombers

Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

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To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out. In situations where you can’t keep a safe distance from others, public health officials recommend the use of a non-medical face mask or covering to prevent spreading the respiratory droplets that can carry the virus. In some provinces and municipalities across the country, masks or face coverings are now mandatory in indoor public spaces.

For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.