NHL COVID-19 protocols being revised for second round of playoffs

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The NHL will revise its COVID-19 protocols beginning with the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs by modifying the requirement for spectators to wear masks at games and by introducing the possibility of reinstalling plexiglass shielding behind penalty boxes and player benches.

These revisions, for the remaining teams in the playoffs, begin Saturday. They are subject to all applicable regulations, including additional restrictions that may be imposed by local, provincial, state and federal authorities.

The new guidelines allow fans over the age of 2 to go without a mask if allowed by the home team. Each team is free to establish its own face-covering policy for its spectators in accordance with applicable local rules and regulations that govern whether vaccinated individuals and unvaccinated individuals are required to wear a face covering while indoors.  

The revised mask rule applies only to spectators. The current COVID-19 protocols for teams remain in effect, meaning team personnel, including players, NHL personnel, broadcasters and photographers, are required to wear face coverings in public areas of all NHL arenas.

Plexiglass shielding could be reinstalled behind the player benches and penalty boxes for the six United States-based arenas hosting games in the second round. It was removed during the regular season as part of NHL COVID-19 protocols. 

Reinstallation of plexiglass for Canada-based teams will be reassessed as vaccination rates increase in Canada.

Both teams in a series must be considered fully vaccinated to reinstall plexiglass. A team is considered fully vaccinated if 85 percent of its traveling party has received the required doses of an approved vaccine and completed the mandatory waiting period after the final dose.

Behind all reinstalled plexiglass areas, a buffer zone of two rows or a minimum of 6 feet, whichever is greater, must be maintained and be completely free of spectators.

The modification of restrictions could be reversed, upon agreement with the NHL Players’ Association, for various reasons, including based on team testing results or in the case of a team outbreak.  

The modifications could also be amended, with NHLPA approval, to facilitate cross-border travel, if that happens in the third round or beyond.

Medical experts at the NHL and NHLPA will continue to review data and guidance issued by the Centers for Disease Control and the Public Health Agency of Canada and may make further modifications.

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