N.S. top doctor has yet to approve IIHF Women’s World Championship plan

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The schedule for the IIHF Women's World Championships in Halifax and Truro was released last week but those are the only details made public. The tournament is set to kickoff May 6th but many questions remain about how the tournament will look and how it will be done safely during the pandemic. Jesse Thomas reports – Apr 7, 2021

The schedule for the IIHF Women’s World Championship in Halifax and Truro was released last week but those are the only details made public at this time.

Although the tournament is set to kick off on May 6, there remain many questions about how the tournament will look and how it will be done safely during the pandemic with teams arriving in Nova Scotia from countries across the globe.

Read more: Canada women’s team prepares to battle for gold in world hockey tournament in Halifax

Local organizers remain optimistic the tournament will go ahead and expect the final approval and other details to come to light soon.

“We are thrilled to welcome the world to Halifax and Truro,” said Carrie Cussons, president and CEO of Events East and chair of the 2021 IIHF Women’s World Championship.

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Nova Scotia’s Department of Health and Wellness confirmed Tuesday to Global News that the province’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Robert Strang has yet to officially approve the tournament’s health and safety plans but it’s anticipated that decision could be made soon.

Cussons says she is confident that with the release of the tournament schedule, the final plans should be approved soon.

“The event organizer Hockey Canada along with the IIHF have been in constant communication with both federal and provincial health authorities to create a safe environment for the athletes that will be joining us,” said Cussons.

As for fans, Cussons says there will be people in the stands at games in both Halifax and Truro but at limited capacity with similar protocols to those in place for Halifax Mooseheads games, which allow for 2,000 fans in the Scotiabank Centre with enhanced COVID-19 protocols.

“We know it’s going to be an amazing experience for the fans,” said Cussons. “We are among one of the only venues in Canada that have actually been able to host events.”

As for player and team protocols, Cussons says those details are still being ironed out.

The tournament will feature the top 10 women’s teams from around the world with Finland, Russia, Switzerland, the United States and Canada competing in Group A in Halifax, with Group B competing in Truro with the Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Hungary and Japan.

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It’s anticipated teams will have to self-isolate for two weeks upon arrival as anyone currently entering Nova Scotia from outside the Atlantic provinces must quarantine for 14 days.

Halifax Mayor Mike Savage believes Nova Scotia is in a good position with its COVID-19 protocols and he trusts the health-care experts who will set the standards, saying, “In Dr. Strang we trust.”

“You can put that on our currency,” said Savage. “(Strang is) not going to bend his public health principles for anything but I also think he’s prepared to look at it and say, ‘If we follow the right protocols and people isolate and you do the testing, and if we keep the crowds at a reasonable level and we can do it safely, then that’s good for me.'”

Read more: How the women’s world hockey tournament in Halifax could be a ‘real triumph’ for city

Truro Mayor Bill Mills welcomes the tournament and says the town has invested more than $700,000 into the Rath Eastlink Community Centre to allow games to be broadcast.

“It would have been better if we could have had a full-fledged sellout crowd for each game, but we’ll have some fans in there and so this is the next best thing,” said Mills. “The alternative is having nobody inside at all and I don’t think we want to go back there.”

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In terms of health protocols, Mills says they are taking a page from the success that Hockey Canada displayed while hosting the world junior championship in Edmonton earlier this year and by following the lead from provincial health experts in Nova Scotia.

“We’ll keep in constant communication with Dr. Strang’s office,” said Mills. “In Atlantic Canada, we’ve been very fortunate compared to other parts of the country and I think the vigilance, the co-operation and the buy-in from the general public helps assure us we should be able to pull this thing off.”

Hockey Canada is expected to deliver a clearer picture of the tournament’s health and safety plan in the coming days.

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