With rising COVID-19 cases, sports in Winnipeg region shut down amid pandemic

The St. Paul's Crusaders celebrate another city championship in high school hockey.
The St. Paul's Crusaders celebrate another city championship in high school hockey. Michael Draven / Global News

With over 400 new COVID-19 cases reported on Friday in Manitoba, new, tighter restrictions will effectively end sports in the Winnipeg region as of Monday.

A complete ban on sports is being felt far and wide, but many leagues aren’t waiting until the new restrictions come into place next week.

Minor hockey in Winnipeg is being cancelled. Effective tonight at midnight, all Hockey Winnipeg sanctioned events are postponed, so no youth hockey will be played this weekend.

The Manitoba Junior Hockey League cancelled Friday’s game between the Winnipeg Blues and the Winnipeg Freeze. And all further games in the Winnipeg metro region are also off while under the current restrictions. But the Steinbach Pistons play just outside the boundary, and games will continue at the T.G. Smith Centre in Steinbach.

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The Winnipeg High School Hockey League suspended play before they could even start their season. The WHSHL had initially planned to open their campaign with 12-teams on Monday. The league will now remain shut down until the Winnipeg region is out of the red zone.

Once that happens, they’ll determine their next steps.

The Manitoba AAA U18 League is in a bit of a different situation as most of their teams are based outside the Winnipeg region. The league will continue to play without the three Winnipeg-based teams, with the season going on hold for the Winnipeg Wild, Winnipeg Thrashers, and Winnipeg Bruins after Friday night’s games.

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The Kenora Thistles haven’t played at all this season as they were unable to travel to Winnipeg.

While the Manitoba Major Junior Hockey League wouldn’t reveal if one of their team’s personnel had a positive COVID-19 test, according to the league’s president, there was a potential exposure to the virus.

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The league had already cancelled three games this weekend involving the Pembina Valley Twisters and the Raiders junior team ahead of the new restrictions.

In a statement to Global News, MMJHL president Kerry Lines indicated they are taking a cautious approach.

“I have some health concerns related to COVID-19 with the Raider Junior Hockey Club as well as the Pembina Valley Twisters,” Lines stated. “The decision was made this morning after a conversation with Pembina Valley. In all above cases we weighed the information available and decided our course of action.

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“At this time what I can tell you is, due to contact tracing, the full extent of the exposure is unclear, and to that end we are hedging on the side of caution to make sure that this is fully contained. It is important to note that these decisions were fully researched and communicated before a joint decision was reached.

“It is important that we take a cautious approach and not to panic as the individuals involved and the teams have taken the proper steps.”

Once the announcement was made on the new restrictions, the MMJHL postponed all of their games, including the four contests remaining on Friday’s schedule.

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The Manitoba Female Hockey League U18 AAA suspended play through Nov. 15.

Even the new Pro Prep Flag Football League has cancelled play with their playoffs originally scheduled for just two weeks from now.

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.

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.

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

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