The decision to move a Halifax Mooseheads hockey game up by a day to seemingly circumvent new COVID-19 restrictions is not sitting well with fans — or the premier’s office.
The Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) team alerted ticketholders Tuesday that its Friday game against Acadie-Bathurst has been moved one day earlier to Thursday.
According to a statement posted on their Facebook page, which has comments limited, the decision was “due to the recent restrictions announced by the Nova Scotia government.”
The province has been recording triple-digit new cases of the virus for the past few days. On Tuesday, there were 127 new cases and a backlog in contact tracing by public health.
On Monday, Nova Scotia announced 40 cases that are part of the growing St. Francis Xavier University outbreak were confirmed to be the Omicron variant. Dr. Robert Strang, chief medical officer of health, said it was expected many more cases to come would be the fast-spreading variant.
In response, the province said it was bringing in new restrictions as of this Friday. The new rules include gathering limits and masking rules.
For a venue like Scotiabank Centre, where the Mooseheads play, Friday’s restrictions will mean spectators will be placed into groups of 150 people. There can be multiple groups, so long as each group has a separate entrance, exit and washrooms.
Within those groups of 150 people, masking and physical distancing will be maintained, unless people are with their own household or a consistent group of 20.
Eating and drinking will no longer be allowed in the stands or seats, and can only happen in separate designated seating areas.
The rescheduling of the game garnered criticism on Twitter — with some calling the move “irresponsible” and “disappointing.”
Premier Tim Houston wasn’t impressed either, it appears.
“The new restrictions regarding gathering limits come into effect on Friday at 9:00 am. The time between the announcement and the implementation was to give businesses, organizations and individuals time to prepare,” the premier’s office wrote in a statement.
“The purpose of the advance notice was not to give organizations an opportunity to reschedule events and get in front of the changes.”
The statement went on to say public health would continue to “closely monitor the situation” and that “if there is a need to change the timing, it will.”
In its post, the Mooseheads said the Wednesday home game versus the Charlottetown Islanders is “status quo and will go ahead as planned.”
“Further information regarding the Mooseheads home game on December 31st will be announced in the coming days.”
In response on Wednesday, a spokesperson from the Mooseheads reiterated to Global News the team would be following all COVID-19 protocols.
“The Halifax Mooseheads are adhering to all public health guidelines for our games tonight (Wednesday) and tomorrow (Thursday) at the Scotiabank Centre as we have for the last two seasons and will continue to do so moving forward into 2022,” wrote Scott MacIntosh.