The Ontario government is permitting NHL teams to dine indoors during the league’s season even though sit-in dining at restaurants across the province has been banned due to coronavirus-related restrictions.
“The rules with the NHL are very much strict with their protocols, with their frequent testing, their isolation of their players to the extent, and especially very tight transport within Canada — they do not leave the country,” said Dr. David Williams, Ontario’s chief medical officer of health, when asked about the situation at a press conference Monday afternoon.
The NHL’s seven Canadian teams are playing against each other this season in order to avoid travelling back and forth across the U.S.-Canada border. The NHL realigned its four divisions while the countries battle COVID-19.
“There are some players, of course, this is not their home and require someplace to have some eating and food facilities,” Williams continued.
“The NHL has procured that in a tight level of restriction and control. So that’s all part of their bubble … which they have strictly laid out in their protocol.”
“And so far, as far as I’m concerned, they’ve been adhering to it.”
The government announced the beginning of the reopening of the province as it grapples with the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic.
The stay-at-home order, which came into effect on Jan. 14, is set to expire this week. Beginning on Wednesday, regions will begin to move back the colour-coded restriction framework introduced by the Ford government in the fall.
Communities in the Hastings Prince Edward Public Health, Kingston, Frontenac and Lennox and Addington Public Health, and Renfrew County and District Health units will move to the green-prevent level. Twenty-eight regions will move back to the framework on Feb. 16 and the three hotspot regions of Toronto, Peel Region and York Region will see restrictions eased as of Feb. 22.
As of Tuesday, Ontario reported 280,494 total coronavirus cases and 6,555 total deaths.